karl stefanovic

Don’t you think the media could get over the shuffling of the deckchairs in Australian TV? Just why is it a big deal that Karl Stefanovic is returning to the Today show on Nine (where he previously bombed)?

The poor media scribes shouting about these changes always fail to underline that network speculation intensifies in the final quarter of the calendar year, when contracts start running out and stars try for a new gig, more money, or just a job. A couple of decades ago this was important because TV was the only game in town. Everyone in print basked in the reflected glory of Sam Chisholm, Ray Martin, Kerri-Anne Kennerley, Brian Henderson, Jana Wendt and other departed stars.

With the rise of streaming and online media, TV — both free to air and cable — is dying out. No amount of publicity about “stars” jumping ship can change the fact that revenue and profits are sliding and more and more jobs are being lost. Leaving one broadcast channel for another is like someone stepping off the Titanic and onto the Titanic.

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Nevertheless, there was a great deal of breathless prose about Stefanovic being drawn back to Today after the flop that was This Time Next Year in 2019 (the show is unlikely to have a next year). Stories last week all but confirmed his return (so long as he accepts a big pay cut). The clincher came Saturday — an in-house announcement in the Nine-owned Sydney Morning Herald trumpeting his return (a reminiscent of how News Corp papers used to announce changes at Foxtel).

The loss of Lisa Wilkinson as Stefanovic’s co-host at Today was a bigger loss to the show than Karl’s departure. There’s that old saying in TV: never go backwards because your career follows you.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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