Rowe quits Studio 10 live on air
STUDIO 10 host Jessica Rowe made the shock announcement that she's leaving the show during this morning's episode.
In an emotional announcement that left several of her co-hosts in tears, Rowe announced that she'd be leaving the program to spend more time with her family.
Rowe said the decision had been "difficult" but was made because "my family need me".
"I want to be a more present mother for my girls, Allegra and Giselle. They need their mum. I want to be there in the mornings for them, to take them to school ... It is something that I need to do, it is as simple as that."
Rowe said she'd discussed the decision at length with her husband, Nine journalist Peter Overton.
"Peter and I have spoken a lot about this over the past six months and it has weighed
on me because this the best job that I have ever had on television. It is family. It is a job that has allowed me to find my voice and my courage again and I will never forget that.
"When I told Paul Anderson, the CEO, of my decision earlier this week, he was incredibly supportive and understood my reasons with family and the network has been nothing but supportive and said any time I'm welcome back."
Rowe's co-hosts - including Joe Hildebrand, who appeared overcome by emotion and bowed his head at the desk throughout the segment - were effusive in their praise of their departing colleague.
"I have made one of the best friends I've ever had, and we've got that for the rest of our lives," said Denise Drysdale.
"What I love most about you, after chatting to Sarah Harris, is that you wear your heart
on your sleeve and I can say from the bottom of my heart, rarely do you meet people with such kindness and courage and with your incredible work with mental health, you have brought comfort to so many people around this country and I want to read a little message from our lovely viewers at home," said Natarsha Belling.
In the minutes following Rowe's announcement, former Studio 10 executive producer Rob McKnight - who dramatically exited the show in November last year, publicly announcing that his services were "no longer required" - issued a tweet alleging Ten had "planned to sack [Rowe] for over a year":
In response to McKnight's tweet, Rowe's manager David Wilson tweeted: "To be absolutely clear - Ten offered Jess a generous new contract for her to stay. Leaving @Studio10au was Jess' choice for the reasons she so beautifully articulated on air this morning. It takes great courage to make these big decisions."
News.com.au has approached Network Ten regarding McKnight's allegations.
Viewers were quick to express their disappointment that Rowe, who has been with Studio 10 since it launched in 2013, would be leaving the program: