For decades, she has blazed a trail in the Australian media, bringing the news to homes around the country. But on Monday, Lisa Wilkinson herself became the subject of the day’s breaking news, her resignation reigniting a fierce debate about a gender pay gap, an issue that has increasingly roiled the media industry.
“I’m sad to say that today was my last day on ‘The Today Show,’” Ms. Wilkinson wrote on Twitter late Monday, referring to Nine Network’s flagship breakfast program, which she had co-hosted for a decade.
Her post contained a statement from the network confirming the split, which came after months of contract negotiations. “We have been unable to meet the expectations of Lisa Wilkinson and her manager on a contract renewal for a further period,” the network statement said, adding that it was “disappointed we find ourselves in this position.”
News of her abrupt departure set off speculation that Ms. Wilkinson, 57, had quit over an equal pay dispute. She had for 10 years been a co-host alongside Karl Stefanovic and at times had fended off questions about a pay gap between the two.
Australian news outlets have reported that Mr. Stefanovic was paid nearly twice as much as Ms. Wilkinson. Ms. Wilkinson, who is also the editor at large for HuffPost’s Australian arm, has not responded to requests for comment. Within an hour of announcing her split from Nine Network, Ms. Wilkinson revealed that she had been snapped up by the rival Network Ten, which is being purchased by the CBS Corporation, the American broadcaster.
She will join “The Project,” Network Ten’s top news and current affairs program, starting next year, Ten said. The deal could make her the highest-paid female host on Australian television, local news reports said.
Her departure comes as other news outlets have been facing questions about gender pay disparities. In July, the BBC released pay data showing that women represented only one-third of the on-air talent who were paid at least 150,000 pounds, or about $200,000, by the broadcaster in the past year.
Ms. Wilkinson’s move drew praise from leading women across the media industry.
“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,” wrote Mia Freedman, co-founder of the women’s media company Mamamia. “Now she has a better deal at Channel 10.”
Her departure from Nine Network also drew the attention of prominent politicians.
“If the reason is about equal pay, I say good on her,” said Gladys Berejiklian, the premier of New South Wales. “I think she’s sending a very strong message to the community.”
Source: The New York Times