According to The Sydney Morning Herald, who have spoken to someone they identify only as a “senior network insider”, there was a comprehensive deal offered to Lisa Wilkinson that was supposed to make her stay with Channel Nine.
It would appear, it didn’t.
On Monday night, Wilkinson announced on Twitter that she had resigned from the Today Show which she co-hosted alongside Karl Stefanovic for a decade. The statement she shared read, “Nine today confirmed we have been unable to meet the expectations of Lisa Wilkinson and her manager on a contract renewal”.
— Lisa Wilkinson (@Lisa_Wilkinson) October 16, 2017
It has been widely speculated that Wilkinson, one of the most experienced and well-known journalists in the country, was being paid approximately half that of the man sitting next to her.
That sounds… well, that sounds a little bit like the gender pay gap.
But The Sydney Morning Herald’s Andrew Hornery tells a very different story.
“For Channel Nine chief executive officer Hugh Marks,” Hornery begins, “it was an obvious choice: meet one of his biggest paid star’s demands and cut 10 jobs or risk losing the star to another network.”
It appears what we have here is not a champion for gender equality, after all. But rather – as Hornery would have us believe – a… well a diva.
In asking for a pay rise, Wilkinson was really asking for Hughes to sack 10 people. How awfully shameful. But also how greedy.
But... there's no mention (perhaps we missed the fine print) of the 20 jobs that Stefanovic's (alleged) salary is making up. If they were so concerned about host's salaries cutting into the producer pool then shouldn't they first look at...
It's an "odd move" anyway, we're told, to move to the "youth-focussed" Network Ten program The Project. She's 57 for goodness sake! It's a notoriously young panel, just look at 62-year-old Steve Price.
The language itself is telling. We are told of the $2 million mark, "the amount she was demanding in order to renew her contract."
Was she demanding a specific amount? Or... parity? Was it about a figure? Or was it about fairness?
The deal was, according to The Sydney Morning Herald, a package specifically crafted for Wilkinson, with an endorsement deal, and a requirement to contribute to Nine's digital site, rather than Huffington Post.
"But none of it was enough for Wilkinson," Hornery dramatically retells. No. The diva stormed out, leaving her co-host to discover the news "not long before the rest of the country".
Stefanovic declined to comment to The Sydney Morning Herald (good choice), BUT an insider (not even an industry insider anymore just an insider from... anywhere) did say, "To be honest, there is a sense of renewed energy today... we have something to prove now... most of us work as a team."
And THERE it is.
By refusing to be paid less than her male counterpart, Wilkinson failed to be part of the team.
While we're being honest, Hornery also would have us know that Wilkinson was getting just a little bit too big for her boots.
"Nine management is also known to have grown weary of Wilkinson's pursuit of personal publicity in recent months..." It's not clear how this is 'known' (... did you know?) or who exactly had "grown weary" so we shall just assume it's everyone who has ever been employed by the network.
There are two examples of her "pursuit of personal publicity".
Firstly, the "recent renewal of her vows". Ahh yes, she's been planning this coup since she married Peter FitzSimons 25 years ago. She knew it would coincide with these contract negotiations. So sneaky.
And secondly, reports about a 'Team Lisa' campaign being launched to get her a Gold Logie next year.
How pathetic! Who would do th...
As a side note, Karl Stefanovic has won a Gold Logie. And Channel Nine ran a campaign for him to win it.
LISTEN: Mia Freedman interviews Lisa Wilkinson on No Filter. Post continues below.
To be clear, none of this is the fault of Stefanovic.
It would be ridiculous to suggest that he hand over some of his share, and they walk away fair and square. We are not naive enough to think that is how the business of television works.
This is about the
people men at the top.
A woman who asks for as much as the man next to her is not greedy. She is not selfish. She is asking for something to which she is already entitled.
The structure that has allowed women to be paid less than men, has been held up by ambiguities, guilt trips and empty excuses.
When Stefanovic signed his contract, no one looked him in the eye and said, "your signature means 20 producers lose their jobs".
But when it came to Wilkinson's request - suddenly that was the choice they were faced with.
And what was she asking for? According to multiple sources, she just wanted the same money as the bloke doing the same job.
And if that makes you a greedy, selfish diva - then more women should be goddamn greedy, selfish divas.
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