Channel Nine staff members are ‘in shock’ at the network’s decision to drop Peter Stefanovic after 15 years with the company, The Australian reported on Wednesday.
Several insiders described the Weekend Today host, 37, as a ‘decent fellow’ and a ‘bloody good reporter’ whose career was sadly undone by the Ubergate scandal in March involving his older brother Karl, 44.
A source told the publication: ‘Everyone is in shock, but it’s Ubergate that’s done him in. Today has been spiralling out of control. And they bone [sack] people.’
‘Today is spiralling out of control’: Channel Nine staffers are reportedly ‘in shock’ by the departure of ‘bloody good reporter’ Peter Stefanovic (left) as they blame the Ubergate scandal with his brother Karl for ending his career at the network. Pictured with his wife Sylvia Jeffreys
Daily Mail Australia has contacted Channel Nine for comment.
It comes after a former television executive claimed on Tuesday that the broadcaster did not renew Peter’s contract due to a ‘cost reduction’ strategy.
Rob McKnight, who worked at the network between 2008 and 2013, reported on his website TV Blackbox that Nine made a ‘costs-based decision’ after Peter, 37, reached the end of his contract.
According to a statement released earlier on Tuesday, however, the official reason for his departure was that he ‘decided to explore new opportunities’.
The confirmation followed weeks of rumours – and repeated denials from Nine – that Peter was about the leave the network after 15 years.
A spokesperson told Daily Mail Australia: ‘Peter has decided to explore new opportunities and is looking forward to spending weekends with his wife, Sylvia Jeffreys.
‘He has been a respected member of the Nine News team and Weekend Today, and we wish him all the best for the future.
Dropped: It comes after a former television executive claimed on Tuesday that the broadcaster did not renew Peter’s contract due to a ‘cost reduction’ strategy. Pictured with Karl Stefanovic
Peter added that it had been a ‘privilege’ to work at Channel Nine for over a decade.
‘I’ve had an amazing time at Nine being a foreign correspondent, News reporter and covering some amazing stories for 60 Minutes,’ he said.
‘I’ll miss my friends at Nine very much, it has been a huge privilege to work alongside so many great people.’
Channel Nine declined to comment on Rob McKnight’s claims on Wednesday. Daily Mail Australia has contacted Peter’s agent at SF Celebrity Management for comment.
Meanwhile, it appears the network – which recently merged with Fairfax – is cleaning house amid a spate of recent departures and rumoured upcoming exits.
Will he go too? Peter’s brother Karl (left) has also been the subject of speculation he could be ‘axed’ from the Today show in 2019, following two years of declining ratings. Pictured with Today co-anchor Georgie Gardner
In early December, the Today show’s executive producer Mark Calvert abruptly left the program, announcing he was ‘stepping down’ after ‘five rollercoaster years’.
Peter’s brother Karl Stefanovic has also been the subject of speculation he could be ‘axed’ from the Today show in 2019, following two years of declining ratings.
In September, Nine chief executive Hugh Marks revealed that Karl’s job was safe for now, but said that everyone on the show – ‘especially Karl’ – needed to lift their game.
However, in the wake of Peter’s departure, talk has again turned to to how secure Karl’s future on the struggling breakfast show really is.
Rumours have persisted for months that the embattled network star may be on his way out due to negative headlines surrounding his personal life.
Today’s ratings recently plunged to a 12-year low and Karl himself has acknowledged the breakdown of his marriage to Cassandra Thorburn and subsequent relationship with a younger woman – shoe designer Jasmine Yarbrough – has damaged his image.
Bad look: Today’s ratings recently plunged to a 12-year low and Karl himself has acknowledged the breakdown of his marriage to Cassandra Thorburn (left) and subsequent relationship with a younger woman – shoe designer Jasmine Yarbrough – damaged his image. Pictured in 2008
In March, Peter and Karl were embroiled in the Ubergate scandal after their private phone conversation in a taxi was leaked to New Idea magazine.
During the conversation, Peter complained about his role on Weekend Today and the Stefanovic brothers also criticised Nine staffers and executives.
‘I hate working news, I’m dying on the inside and it makes me feel horrible,’ the Uber driver allegedly overheard Peter telling his older brother.
‘The life is draining out of me. I’m so much better than this and can do so much more, it’s the worst four days each week and I should be doing more.’
New relationship: Karl’s romance with Jasmine Yarbrough – whom he married in Mexico earlier this month – has been a major turn-off for female viewers
An insider told Woman’s Day in March that the scandal could cost Peter his job, as he was ‘far more replaceable’ than his brother Karl.
However, in September, it was reported that despite Karl’s contract at the station, believed to be worth almost $3million and not expiring until the end of 2020, he was ‘likely to be replaced in the New Year’.
‘Top-level sources at Channel Nine’s Willoughby studios say the embattled Today host is officially “gone”,’ the Daily Telegraph alleged.
Incoming? The apparent frontrunner to take Karl’s job is Adelaide newsreader Brenton Ragless (pictured), who is currently filling in for his newly-married colleague
Despite Nine backing Karl for 2019, speculation about his future has continued to grow over the past fortnight, with multiple reports claiming he is facing the chop.
The apparent frontrunner to take Karl’s job is Adelaide newsreader Brenton Ragless, who is currently filling in for his newly-married colleague on Today.
Reports in both The Australian and The Advertiser on Monday suggested that Brenton, 42, could end up permanently filling Karl’s spot if ratings don’t improve next year.
Meanwhile, questions over the future of Today newsreader Sylvia Jeffreys, who is married to Peter Stefanovic, were also raised on Tuesday.
Entertainment reporter Peter Ford claimed the 32-year-old journalist will be replaced by Tracy Vo, a presenter with Channel Nine’s Perth news team.
Ford tweeted: ‘As I reported yesterday there is also a plan to also “redeploy” @SylviaJeffreys and @Tracy_Vo is favourite to move east.’
Tracy, who is currently based in WA, celebrated 10 years at the network last year.
What’s next? Meanwhile, questions over the future of Today newsreader Sylvia Jeffreys, who is married to Peter Stefanovic, were also raised on Tuesday
Returning to Sydney? Entertainment reporter Peter Ford alleged on Monday that the 32-year-old will be replaced by Tracy Vo (pictured), a presenter with Channel Nine’s Perth news team
The Vietnamese-Australian reporter spent five years in the Sydney newsroom before returning to Perth in 2012 to care for her parents.
Even the future of beloved entertainment guru Richard Wilkins came into question earlier this week, with Nine being forced to deny rumours he’s set to depart.
In a statement to the Sydney Morning Herald on Monday, a spokesperson said: ‘Richard is a valued member of the Nine and Today family. He will remain with Today in 2019 and beyond.’
Moved on: Many of the changes come after the departure of Today’s executive producer Mark Calvert (right), who stepped down from his role at Nine in early December
Daily Mail Australia understands that it’s likely Richard will be ‘transferred’ to Today Extra over the coming months.
Many of the changes come after the departure of Today’s executive producer Mark Calvert, who stepped down from his role in early December.
His resignation came after ratings for Today hit a 12-year low in September, and amid rumours of ‘tension’ between Calvert and host Karl Stefanovic.
Safe for now? Even the future of beloved entertainment guru Richard Wilkins came into question earlier this week, with Nine being forced to deny rumours he’s set to depart