Karl Stefanovic to return to Today hosting duties

Reports of Karl Stefanovic’s return to Nine’s breakfast program Today have proven to be correct, with the Nine-owned papers securing an exclusive interview with him confirming the news.

Stefanovic, as predicted, will be joined by Allison Langdon, who currently has gigs on Weekend Today and 60 Minutes.

The exclusive, by Andrew Hornery, appeared online across Nine’s titles including The Sydney Morning Herald and Brisbane Times at 10:21pm on Friday, however the interview was subsequently taken offline.

The exclusive story as it appeared earlier

In Hornery’s piece, Stefanovic said he’s just as shocked as everyone else at his return.

“It’s not something that I thought would come up again,” Stefanovic told Hornery. “I thought my time was up, but then, when I was sounded out about it, it got me thinking.”

The story went missing from Nine’s online assets

Stefanovic was previously with the embattled breakfast program for 14 years. For a large chunk of his time there, he sat next to Lisa Wilkinson.

Wilkinson announced her departure in 2017 after contract negotiations broke down, and very quickly revealed her next gig with Network Ten.

Wilkinson was replaced by Georgie Gardner, but Stefanovic was next on the chopping block.

His departure was announced at the end of 2018, and by January this year, the new line-up of Gardner, alongside Deb Knight and Tom Steinfort had been announced.

The ratings throughout 2019 however, have struggled to make an impression on rival Sunrise on Seven.

Back in 2017, 301,000 metro viewers tuned in to see the unexpected aftermath of Wilkinson’s immediate departure. Then Gardner’s first outing alongside Stefanovic in 2018 had 256,000 metro viewers.

After Stefanovic’s departure became public, 239,000 metro viewers tuned in.

The new line-up had just 197,000 on debut.

It has consistently sat below the 200,000 metro viewers mark this year.

Nine’s news boss Darren Wick said the experiment with Gardner, Knight, Steinfort and the surrounding team was “a bold decision to try something new with two women hosting” that “sadly… has not worked”.

In a statement issued to Mumbrella, Stefanovic said he had missed being on the show.

“It’s a big job with enormous pressures and I know only too well some of those pitfalls, but it is also without question the best live job in Australia. I’ve loved 60 Minutes and the team there who have been so generous and supported me, but for me the best way to use the skills I have is the live show format and I missed the Today Show, I missed it a lot. The show and the audience make me feel alive. I’m up for the fight and I want to fight for our audience. Ally is her own confident, capable woman and I will be there to help her any step of the way but we are equals in this fight and I feel confident in our partnership. We’re both good journalists, we both love a laugh and it won’t be boring,” he said.

Langdon echoed Stefanovic’s sentiment that the new line-up would “not be boring”.

“There is a lot of hard work ahead but I can tell you one thing, it’s not going to be boring! I love the unpredictability of live TV… and Karl. Wind him up and let him go! I’m sure we’ll butt heads, but we’ll do it with a smile on our face. I just want to help our viewers get their day off to a good, fun start,” she said.

UPDATE 11 November: The interview with Stefanovic in the Nine-owned papers including The Sydney Morning Herald was re-posted online around 4am. It also ran on the front page of Saturday’s SMH. Nine had no comment on the story’s temporary disappearance.


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