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Jessica Rowe leaves Studio 10

Former newsreader now Studio 10 panellist Jessica Rowe is to leave the show at the end of the month.

Rowe cited a desire to spend more time with family as she announced her resignation live on air, however former executive producer of the show, Rob McKnight has since come out claiming the network has been trying to fire the presenter for over a year. 

On this morning’s broadcast, Rowe said: “I’ve decided to leave Studio 10 and why I’ve decided to do this decision, it’s been a very hard thing for me to do, but it’s because my family need me. And I, as I said, it’s been difficult. I want to be more present, I want to be a more present mum for my girls, Allegra and Giselle. They need their mum and I want to be there in the mornings for them, take them to school, do canteen duty – heaven help them with the sandwiches.”

Rowe and her husband Nine news reader Peter Overton, have been agonising over the decision for six months, she said, with the internal conflict compounded by her love for the job.

“It’s something that I need to do. It’s as simple as that. Peter and I have spoken a lot about this over the past six months and it’s weighed on me because this is a job that I love. It’s the best job I’ve ever had on television. It is family and it’s been a job that has allowed me to find my voice and my courage again and I will never ever forget that.”

Rowe said the network and CEO Paul Anderson had been nothing but supportive and would leave the door open for her to return to Ten in the future.

McKnight, however, told a different story, taking to Twitter to claim the network has been attempting to oust the presenter for over a year:

Former EP McKnight tells a different story of Rowe’s departure

The network has already hit back at McKnight’s version of events, labelling the claims “spiteful” and “deliberately misleading”.

“Mr McKnight’s claim is completely wrong, obviously spiteful and deliberately misleading. As Jess said, she has decided to leave Studio 10 to devote more time to her family and her other interests. Anyone who suggests otherwise is being petty and ignorant. Jess is welcome back to Ten anytime,” a spokesperson said.

Network Ten chief content officer, Beverley McGarvey, was also supportive: “Jess has been a vital member of the Studio 10 team since day one and I want to thank her for her passion, commitment and enthusiasm over the past four years.

“Our viewers and everyone at Network Ten are going to miss Jess, but we fully understand and support her decision. Thank you Jess, for everything.”

Rowe was famously “boned” from Nine in 2007 whilst on maternity leave.

She told Mumbrella360 last year about the incident and the struggles of returning to television with young children.

“I recall after having a meeting with various lawyers who told me they were ready to muscle up for a fight, I had a six-week-old baby at home. I remember coming home, I was all dressed up in my armour of makeup and business suit, and I remember lying on my front lawn while my mum patted my head because I felt like my world had fallen apart.

“I was being encouraged to ‘step aside’ because of the ‘challenges of motherhood’, and I very angrily rallied against, but I knew that I did not have the emotional energy or capacity to fight at that time. There was a big part of me that felt like I was letting my baby down.”

Rowe joined Studio 10 at its inception in 2013 alongside co-hosts Sarah Harris, Joe Hildebrand and Ita Buttrose. It has since screened more than 1,000 episodes.

Last year, the daily show was extended to three-and-a-half hours, running from 8:30am to 12pm each day. McKnight, who was at the time still EP of the show, praised the cast.

“I genuinely believe they have the best chemistry on television. They can play off each other, get testy, then have a laugh a minute later,” he said as the show’s length was extended.

Rowe’s last day on air will be Good Friday, 30 March.

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