Mark Ferguson quits Channel Nine

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Channel Nine newsreader Mark Ferguson has quit the Nine Network, just days after launching its new afternoon show, THIS Afternoon.

He has signed with the Seven Network where he is expected to read weekend news.

"Although we are not announcing his job description just yet, I know we can offer him something far more challenging and exciting than THIS Afternoon. We're number one.

And, unlike some, we don't need to toss money at viewers to persuade them to watch our news and public affairs and breakfast television programmes." said Seven Media Group CEO, David Leckie.

The shock news follows a year of turmoil at Nine News which saw Ferguson replaced by 60 Minutes journalist Peter Overton as its weeknight newsreader in January. The switch was hardly a smooth one with many viewers unhappy about the treatment of Ferguson, demoted to weeknights.

Since that time, Overton's news has not made any significant inroads on Seven News.

Just this week Ferguson was presented as one of the three faces of its new afternoon format, alongside Andrew Daddo and Katrina Blowers. The role requires him to make light banter with the hosts about all manner of subjects from celebrity gossip to literacy skills to parenting.

Only this week he was reported as saying, "I'm looking forward to working with Katrina and Andrew. We will have a lot of fun and a lot of flexibility on THIS Afternoon, so if there’s a big story breaking we can provide extensive coverage."

But the show has had a lacklustre start in its timeslot, beaten by The Bold & The Beautiful and TEN News at Five. Media commentary on the show has been unenthusiastic.

With the arrival of Mark Ferguson to Seven, attention now turns to the team of Ian Ross and Chris Bath.

Bath has always been expected to assume Ross' role when he announces his retirement.

Watch this space…

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