Australian news reporter, Lisa Wilkinson, 57, resigned from her position on The Today Show as a result of a pay gap between her and her co-host, Karl Stefanovic, 43. There are reports that Stefanovic is paid more because of his Primetime show, This Time Next Year, and his regular 60 Minutes appearances. However, this did not stop Wilkinson from parting ways.
For nearly 10 years, Wilkinson has been the co-host on the popular morning program. After months of negotiation, Nine Network’s statement read, “We have been unable to meet the expectations of Lisa Wilkinson and her manager on a contract renewal for a further period.”
Wilkinson tweeted about her departure, saying, “I’m sad to say that today was my last day on ‘The Today Show,’” which is Nine Network’s most-watched breakfast program. Attached to her tweet was a piece of the statement from the network.
With her co-host earning nearly double Wilkinson’s salary, her departure was not unjustified. News Corp Australia reports Stefanovic earned $2M per year while Wilkinson made only $1.1M. The new contract from Nine Network offered her $1.8M, but she stood her ground and would not accept anything less than her partner.
The American broadcasting company CBS is purchasing the network. News reports say that Wilkinson will earn more at Network Ten than Stefanovic earns at Nine. This could make her the top-paid female host on Australian TV, or even potentially the top-paid person, man or woman.
Stefanovic said that Wilkinson had handled a decade’s worth of “brutal” 3:30 a.m. starts with grace, intelligence, and “a wicked sense of humour.”
“It is safe to say we are all a little shocked and it will take time to sink in,” he said. “So for now, this: Thank you.”
Ten’s Chief Content Officer, Beverley McGarvey, commented on her newest team member, by saying, “Lisa has established her credentials as a leading figure in the Australian media industry. She has a great connection to the Australian public and a reputation that is second to none. We are proud that she has agreed to join the acclaimed team at The Project and The Sunday Project.”
The co-founder of the women’s media company Mamamia, Mia Freedman, also had positive things to say about Wilkinson’s decision: “What a woman. Lisa Wilkinson taking a stand for women everywhere by asking for equal pay with her co-host and walking when Channel Nine refused, now she has a better deal at Channel 10.”
Wilkinson’s choice to leave speaks volumes and has not gone unnoticed by women who understand the discrimination of receiving less pay for equal work.
Even though she is being paid a large sum of money either way, Lisa Wilkinson took a stand not only for herself but also for women that have similar experiences. Her zero-tolerance attitude for the pay gap acts as a great example for women to follow. This may be a difficult decision for those that don’t have this choice, but the message she sends is empowering for women and creates conversations on the injustice of the gender pay gap.
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