Here’s something you rarely see: Comcast‘s top two execs ended 2011 with big compensation cuts, even though the stock appreciated 6.9% in the year. CEO Brian Roberts collected $2.8M in salary, $5.7M in stock awards, $5.8M in option awards, $5.5M in non equity incentives, $3.7M change in pension value and $3.4M in other compensation. Last year he saw more than $10.9M from non-equity incentives. Although Roberts isn’t much of a flight risk — his family founded and controls Comcast — the board says that it based his pay on that of other top media CEOs because it believes compensation is an important “tool to attract and retain the best senior executives.” NBCUniversal CEO Steve Burke was close behind with $23.7M, down 31.9%. His tally: $2.2M salary, $4.4M stock awards, $4.7M in option awards, $6.7M in non equity incentives, $3.1M change in pension, and $2.5M in other compensation. This year he didn’t collect a bonus, which came to $3M in 2010, and he was down about $2M in non equity incentives.
The only Comcast exec who was named in last year’s proxy and got a raise in 2011 was David Cohen — an EVP and the company’s chief lobbyist — who made $15.1M, up 18.9%. Although Roberts’ pay was astronomical by any measure, it was just 1.4 times the average for his closest colleagues — well below the danger zone in the eyes of corporate governance watchdogs. Comcast’s annual meeting will be held in Philadelphia on May 31. Investors will vote on proposals that would allow cumulative voting for directors (shareholders can divvy their votes among different board candidates), require the chairman to be independent of management, and giving shareholders a say on the company’s “poison pill” anti-takeover plan. Comcast opposes the changes.