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Waleed Aly's talks with the ABC to replace Leigh Sales as host of 7.30


Twist in 7.30’s succession saga as insiders say Waleed Aly was the ABC’s ‘favourite’ to replace Leigh Sales… before signing an eye-watering ‘seven-figure’ deal to stay at The Project

The Project’s Waleed Aly has signed a new multi-year deal with Channel 10, putting an end to rumours he could replace Leigh Sales as host of ABC’s 7.30.

Sales’ announcement last month she would be quitting 7.30 after the federal election coincided with Aly’s contract with 10 coming up for renewal, leading to speculation he could jump ship to the public broadcaster, where he started his media career.

However, The Australian reports Aly, 43, is staying with the commercial network for the foreseeable future, having recently inked a seven-figure deal that will see him continue to host The Project four nights a week ‘until the mid-2020s’.

Staying put: The Project's Waleed Aly (pictured) has signed a new multi-year deal with Channel 10, putting an end to rumours he could replace Leigh Sales as host of ABC's 7.30

Staying put: The Project’s Waleed Aly (pictured) has signed a new multi-year deal with Channel 10, putting an end to rumours he could replace Leigh Sales as host of ABC’s 7.30

Aly’s re-signing confirms Channel 10’s long-term commitment to The Project, which has struggled in the ratings in recent years.

Keeping him on the desk is also crucial to the show’s continuity as popular presenter Carrie Bickmore prepares to take a three-month sabbatical with her family in the UK.

A source told The Australian: ‘Signing Waleed is a statement that The Project is an integral part of 10’s program schedule. It’s not going anywhere.’

Shake-up: Sales' (pictured) announcement last month she would be quitting 7.30 after the federal election coincided with Aly's contract with 10 coming up for renewal, leading to speculation he could jump ship to the public broadcaster, where he started his media career

Shake-up: Sales’ (pictured) announcement last month she would be quitting 7.30 after the federal election coincided with Aly’s contract with 10 coming up for renewal, leading to speculation he could jump ship to the public broadcaster, where he started his media career

Aly’s deal with Channel 10 is also said to include ‘sweeteners’ that will allow him to make appearances on ABC shows like Insiders, Offsiders and Q+A. 

With Aly out of the running to take over 7:30, the two front-runners to replace Sales remain Sarah Ferguson and David Speers.

Meanwhile, Channel 10 has also reportedly renewed other Project hosts’ contracts, including Lisa Wilkinson and Hamish Macdonald.

Plan: Aly's re-signing confirms Channel 10's long-term commitment to The Project, which has struggled in the ratings in recent years. Keeping him on the desk is also crucial to the show's continuity as Carrie Bickmore (right) prepares to take a three-month sabbatical in the UK

Plan: Aly’s re-signing confirms Channel 10’s long-term commitment to The Project, which has struggled in the ratings in recent years. Keeping him on the desk is also crucial to the show’s continuity as Carrie Bickmore (right) prepares to take a three-month sabbatical in the UK

The Project, which is produced by Rove McManus’ production company Roving Enterprises, is considered a sacred cow at 10 even though its ratings are poor.

Its ratings are typically strongest from 6:30pm to 7pm, but the audience tends to drop off unless there is a strong entertainment show at 7:30pm.

It comes after 10 sunk to a worrying new ratings low in 2021, recording its worst commercial audience share since the OzTAM ratings system began in 2001.

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