Channel Nine CEO Hugh Marks has spoken for the first time after Lisa Wilkinson's shock exit from the network to Channel Ten.
Marks has refuted claims the 57-year-old decided to walk away from her coveted hosting gig on the Today because the network would not pay her the same amount as her co-host Karl Stefanovic, who was reportedly on $2 million a year compared to Lisa's $1.8 million.
Speaking to The Daily Telegraph, Marks blamed Lisa's other "commercial contracts" that restricted Nine having "complete access" to the journalist.
Alongside her former role at Today, Lisa is also the editor-at-large for Huffington Post Australia, which is a competitor to Nine's digital news sites, with the The Daily Telegraph claiming the veteran journalist'sHuff Post role "caused increasing friction" during contract talks.
However Marks told the publication her editor-at-large position "restricts [Nine's] ability to engage with her digitally" and that the network was "restricted from engaging with her also on social media."
He also touched on the claims regarding unequal pay regarding the two breakfast show hosts, saying he "hated" that he had to compare Lisa to Karl.
"I hate the fact we have to compare her with Karl but with him we have those rights [to complete access]. With Lisa, we do not."
Marks also claimed that while the network ultimately offered a $1.8 million package to Lisa, her counter-offer of $2.3 million could not be matched.
Lisa managed to blindside everyone on Monday evening, including her former Today colleagues, but announcing she had hosted her last show and would be moving to Channel Ten in the new year to host The Project andThe Sunday Project.