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Karl Stefanovic to leave Today Show

The long-standing host of Nine’s breakfast television show, Karl Stefanovic, is set to leave the program.

Nine said an announcement about the new line-up and format of the program will be made in coming weeks.

Stefanovic remains contracted to Nine

Stefanovic has fronted the program for 14 years, but has been under increased scrutiny in recent months.

Last year, Stefanovic and his co-host at the time Lisa Wilkinson, hit headlines when press leaks indicated he earned significantly more than his co-star.

Wilkinson then announced she was leaving Nine after contract negotiations broke down. Within an hour of announcing her departure from Nine, it was revealed Wilkinson was joining Ten to front The Sunday Project and assist with its publishing play.

There have since been reports of off-air tensions between Stefanovic and his new Today Show co-host, Georgie Gardner, with further fuel added to the fire when Stefanovic and his brother Peter – also a Nine employee at the time – were reported to have been venting about Nine management and Gardner in an Uber.

Yesterday it was announced Peter Stefanovic, who fronts Weekend Today and has been with Nine for 15 years, would be leaving the network “to explore new opportunities“.

Gardner’s first outing as Today host alongside Karl Stefanovic garnered 256,000 metro viewers, which was almost 50,000 less than the 301,000 who tuned in the day after Wilkinson’s shock departure was announced.

Yesterday’s episode of the Today show had 195,000 metro viewers. Rival Sunrise on Seven had 266,000.

Stefanovic again became headline fodder when his long-term marriage broke down and his new relationship was revealed. There has been much press speculation about how long he can remain at the helm of Today with so much negative publicity surrounding his personal life.

In the announcement today, Stefanovic acknowledged the negativity surrounding him in recent months.

“For the last 14 years I’ve co-hosted the best show on television. I can’t thank Nine enough for the opportunity. I never in my wildest dreams thought I would be good enough to host this grand show for so long.

Stefanovic: ‘Thanks for hanging in there’

“Thanks to our viewers mostly, you are what matters most. It’s been a tough time. Thanks for hanging in there. I look forward to seeing you in another capacity as this great network soon,” he said.

That other capacity is Stefanovic’s other program This Time Next Year, which re-commences filming in February.

In 2017, This Time Next Year premiered in Nine with 1.282m metro viewers, however later episodes dipped well below the million mark.

Darren Wick, director of news and current affairs at Nine, implied the decision was mutual between the network and the talent.

“Nine and Karl Stefanovic have agreed it is time for him to step off the Today Show,” he said. “Karl remains on contract with the network and will continue to host This Time Next Year, which records in February.

“For over 14 years, Karl has been at the centre of the Today Show, bringing his unique personality and perspective to the day’s news and current affairs.

“An announcement on the new line up and format of the Today Show will be made in the coming weeks.”

Two weeks ago, the EP of Today and Nine’s director of morning television, Mark Calvert, stepped down, saying his future may be with Nine, or it could be elsewhere.

The EP of A Current Affair, Steven Burling, has since stepped into the role.

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