I was worth that $800,000, says Judy Bailey

By Kate Chapman

Former One News presenter Judy Bailey says her $800,000 salary was based on her "brand", but it still hurt when the public found out how much she was being paid.

The erstwhile "Mother of the Nation" says that, when her salary was leaked to the media, she thought: "Here we go.

"I knew it would be horrific and that it would be open slather."

Bailey's comments come in a Prime Television interview that will screen tonight, with another former highly paid star at TVNZ, Paul Holmes.

The interview coincides with the release of her autobiography, My Own Words, on Monday, for which a number of media deals have been stitched up. Bailey told Holmes she recalled the first phone call from the media seeking confirmation about her newly renegotiated salary.

She said the salary was based on her ratings, she was worth it and knew it was her "last shot".

"I wasn't a Johnny-come-lately and I'd been there all those years."

She got the salary because she asked for it, to the surprise of Bill Ralston, the head of news and current affairs at TVNZ.

Bailey has also spoken to TV3 presenter Mike McRoberts for 60 Minutes. He said she was "quite candid" about what had gone on, saying she felt "totally betrayed" when her salary was leaked to the media.

"She certainly doesn't seem to be missing reading the news," McRoberts said.

He said that from the 60 Minutes interview it was obvious Bailey was held in high public regard.

McRoberts said she was still loyal to TVNZ and "has been mindful of that" when writing the book, which includes her account of the John Hawkesby-Richard Long battle for the co-newsreader's position.

Bailey was caught in the middle when Hawkesby, a close friend with whom she shared the limelight for years as co-presenter of the regional news programme Top Half, was poached from TV3 and Long, also a close friend, was dumped.

A 60 Minutes website preview reveals Bailey did not think being a solo newsreader would work.

TVNZ spokesperson Robin Field said that, although it did not have an interview scheduled with Bailey, One News would cover the book launch on Monday. "We anticipate reference to TVNZ [in the autobiography].

"Judy was with the organisation for a long time and was a valued member of the One News team."

Publicist Sandra Lees refused to reveal any further contents of the book, which will retail at $35.

* The Bailey interviews will screen on Prime at 7.30 tonight, and on 60 Minutes on TV3 on Monday at 7.30pm.

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