TV star steps away after network rant
ABC News Breakfast host Michael Rowland has made the shock announcement that he will be taking a break from the show.
Rowland made the announcement live on air just before the close of the show at 9am on Wednesday.
“Hey, listen, I’m off on a break,” he abruptly added just before the final sign-off.
In a sign the departure may be more permanent than he was initially letting on, Rowland took the moment to thank the show’s viewers for their ongoing support.
“I want to use this as an opportunity to thank you, our viewers,” he said.
“You‘ve been fabulous in the time I’ve been on the show.
“It’s been great presenting to you and if it wasn’t for you, the viewers, none of us would be here doing what we do. It’s been a real honour.”
Catching on to the tone of his words, presenter Madeleine Morris asked: “That’s sounding final. Are you coming back?”
Rowland smiled but did not respond as co-host Lisa Millar replied on his behalf: “Absolutely”.
Well, that escalated quickly…
Just taking some long-scheduled leave.
I will be back on News Breakfast in late June. Look forward to seeing you then! 😃 https://t.co/RJTlLVsg6w
— Michael Rowland (@mjrowland68) May 24, 2023
He sent out a tweet after the show confirming he is “taking a break” effective immediately, but later clarified that the break would not be permanent.
“Well, that escalated quickly…,” he tweeted.
“Just taking some long-scheduled leave.
“I will be back on News Breakfast in late June. Look forward to seeing you then!”
An ABC spokesperson confirmed that Rowland is taking a “long-planned holiday” and will be back on air at the end of June.
Rowland announced he will be replaced by finance presenter and regular fill-in host Madeleine Morris who will join co-host Millar for the “next little while”.
It comes hours after Rowland shared a public show of support for his fellow ABC colleague Stan Grant who shocked viewers when he announced he would be stepping away as host of QandA after persistent racial abuse while at the helm of the show.
“If you missed this last night, please take time to watch these powerful words from my colleague Stan Grant,” Rowland tweeted on Tuesday.
“Racism is a scourge.
“We all need to do better in calling it out, and that includes the ABC.
“Take care, Stan.”
Rowland has presented on ABC News Breakfast since 2010 when he joined Virginia Trioli as host.
After close to 13 years as host, he is a fan favourite on the program where he now shares the lounge with co-host Millar.
Stan Grant steps down after racial abuse
Proud Wiradjuri man and TV journalist Stan Grant shocked audiences of the ABC’s popular weekly debate show QandA when he announced he would be stepping away after less than 12 months as host.
He broke the news in an essay published to the broadcasters website last Friday before wrapping up his final show earlier this week.
“I’ve had to learn that endurance is not always strength,” he told viewers at the end of Monday night’s program.
“Sometimes, strength is knowing when to say stop and to those who have sent messages of support - thank you so much.
“But I’ll be OK.”
Earlier this week, ABC staff from offices across the country held rallies in support of Grant and other employees who have faced racial abuse from the public.
Outside the broadcaster’s Sydney headquarters at Ultimo, Parliament House at Canberra and the Melbourne headquarters, dozens of employees stood in protest on Monday afternoon.
“ABC staff are walking out in support of Stan this afternoon,” ABC employee Dee Jefferson tweeted.
“Stan’s experience of racist abuse is shared by so many colleagues. Listening is the smallest part of what we can do to help clean up this mess.”