The FCC Commissioner became Acting Chair — and the first women to run the regulatory agency — on Saturday taking the job just vacated by Julius Genachowski until the Senate (presumably) confirms President Obama’s choice to replace him, Tom Wheeler. “I see myself as a member of a relay team, running one of the middle legs,” Clyburn told FCC staffers today. “My job is to build on forward momentum, give the next teammate a running start, an improved position, and no matter what, my goal is not to drop the baton.” It could take months before she can pass that baton to Wheeler. The Senate likely will confirm him in tandem with a Republican to replace former Commissioner Robert McDowell who left the FCC on Friday. Presidents typically appoint someone recommended by the opposition leadership when there’s an FCC opening for the out party. But the Senate GOP has yet to make its pick. Leaders are seriously considering Duke University’s Michelle Connolly — a former FCC chief economist — Politico reports. Others being looked at include former Scripps Networks Chief Legal Officer A.B. Cruz, and Hill staff veterans Ray Baum and Neil Fried. Last week the U.S. Office of Government ethics disclosed that Wheeler — a former lobbyist who’s now an investor with Core Capital partners — said that if confirmed he would divest holdings in 78 companies including AMC Networks, Apple, Cablevision, CBS, Comcast, DirecTV, Dish …
PREVIOUSLY, WEDNESDAY AM: Time Warner Cable, the country’s No. 2 cable service and a second unidentified pay-TV entity are considering taking a piece of the ad-supported streaming-video service, The Wall Street Journal reports. Slower growth in the pay-TV sector has the NY-based Time Warner Cable paying more attention to its broadband operations lately. Disney, News Corp and Comcast own about a third each of the 6-year-old service, which recently topped the 4 million-subscriber mark. Other groups mulling a stake in Hulu include Yahoo and the Chernin Group, run by ex-News Corp. exec Peter Chernin.
“Look out Facebook!” the News Corp CEO wrote today in a tweet. “Hours spent participating per member dropping seriously. First really bad sign as seen by crappy MySpace years ago.” Easy to see why he’s still smarting over the “crappy” asset that he bought in 2005 for $508M and sold two years ago for $35M. But his warning also reflects the passion Facebook inspires among supporters and critics alike on the anniversary of its ill-fated initial public offering at $38 a share. The stock closed today at $26.25 — down 31.3% — and has been pretty much flat for more than five months. Bears say that Facebook can’t sustain its torrid growth as it faces potent competitors — including Google, Twitter and Tumblr — and a shift among users from personal computers to advertising unfriendly small screened mobile phones and tablets. “Facebook is now scrambling to boost revenues through bigger ads that take over the entire screen,” BTIG’s Rich Greenfield notes today. He contrasts that to Google+, a social network that “is not out to harm the user experience through disruptive, annoying, spammy ads, they simply want the data to improve search and other products.”
NEW YORK–News Corporation today announced the appointment of Antoinette Cook Bush as Executive Vice President and Global Head of Government Affairs for the new News Corporation, the proposed global publishing entity to be formed as part of the Company’s intended separation into two independent, publicly traded companies. In her new role, effective June 24, Ms. Bush will report to Robert Thomson, Chief Executive Officer of the new News Corporation, and be based in Washington, D.C.
After a year without an agency representation in television, Peter Chernin’s production company has landed at UTA. Chernin Entertainment was signed by UTA Managing Director Jay Sures and partner/head of the TV department Matt Rice who will represent it. Chernin Entertainment, which is behind Fox’s flagship comedy New Girl, is a very lucrative client, in part because of its very rich deal at 20th Century Fox TV. The pact, which has two more years on it, has big on-air commitments from Fox built into it as part of Chernin’s exit package from News Corp. Four-year-old Chernin Entertainment got off to a flying start in television and was previously repped by WME until the two sides parted ways last June. While there, Chernin had multiple shows on the air, most recently New Girl, Touch and Ben & Kate this past season. This year, the company has no new series picked up for next season but New Girl just landed the coveted post-Super Bowl slot. Chernin Entertainment’s TV division is run by Katherine Pope.
Twitter users soon will be able to see — rather than just read about — more hail Marys, big air, and golden goals. ESPN said today it is broadening its ties to the 140-character world, making ad-embedded clips of several major events available on Twitter and mobile devices, creating yet another potential revenue stream. The sports behemoth becomes the latest TV entity to get cozier with the site as video becomes a bigger part of the twitterverse. Last month, Twitter was said to be holding talks with Viacom and NBCUniversal about hosting clips from those companies’ shows, and BBC America tweeted a few weeks back that it had signed up for the first “in-Tweet branded video synced to entertainment TV series.” The Disney-run “Worldwide Leader in Sports,” as it brands itself, soon will make the clips available on Twitter and mobile devices shortly after they happen live on-air. Expect video from NCAA football, the X Games and action from the pitch during the run-up to next year’s soccer World Cup. The net will detail its plans during its upfront Tuesday in New York.
Media CEOs don’t run their companies by themselves. Having looked at chiefs whose pay is out of whack, and those who are paid the most, here are others of note: the five best compensated company chairs, COOs, CFOs, and General Counsels as well as 10 other execs with standout compensation. We find that the five highest paid chairs collectively made $106.5M (+4.1% vs. 2011), with the COOs at $136.2M (+7.5%), CFOs at $77.9M (-15.0%), and General Counsels at $42M (+6.4%). Keep some caveats in mind with these results: I looked only at chairs who aren’t also CEOs, and there aren’t that many. (To avoid duplication, I combined the compensation that Sumner Redstone collected at CBS and Viacom, and that Charles Dolan received at Cablevision and AMC Networks.) Also, it’s often hard to define the roles that execs play. For example, Disney and Comcast don’t list a COO and Comcast’s CFO is also the Vice Chairman. So these compensation figures from company proxy statements can help you to see how the media power elite stack up, but only tell part of the story. Finally, remember that the SEC requires companies to provide compensation information for their five top executives. It’s safe to assume that several unlisted execs at big companies were paid more than some listed execs at smaller ones. Here’s how some of media’s top non-CEOs fared in 2012:
News Corp chief Rupert Murdoch this morning sent this memo to staff everywhere. Again, while the parent company logo changes after the corporation splits, the film and TV studio’s 20th Century Fox name will not:
Today I am proud to unveil our new logo, which serves as a powerful symbol of the inspiration and high bar set by our company. Like our name, the logo reflects the rich creative heritage of Twentieth Century Fox and signals the promise of the 21st century and our restless drive toward the future.
Ultimately, our new logo celebrates the powerful commitment of you and your colleagues to the excellence and innovation that will propel 21st Century Fox forward.
Click here and take a look!
It isn’t the kind of thing a network exec wants to admit the week before broadcasters open the upfront ad sales season. But the News Corp COO, in a quarterly call with analysts, couldn’t avoid the fact that this season’s ratings declines show “it’s not been a great year for the broadcast business overall from a creative perspective.” Carey says it’s time for networks to “discard a few habits and rules and take some shots. Hopefully next week will be the beginning of that process.” While he didn’t offer specifics, he says one possibility is to “be a bit more targeted [in programming] and invest deeper—take fewer bets and bet deeper.” Carey acknowledged that as digital video becomes more popular “there’s no question there’ll be more and more choices and people will find those choices.” But the exec says he still has faith in broadcasting — as long as it can collect revenues from subscriptions as well as ad sales. He declined to offer more insight into his recent threat to make Fox a pay TV service if the courts jeopardize the dual revenue stream model. Some analysts say that could happen if justices agree that streaming service Aereo can distribute local over-the-air signals without paying broadcasters. “If that dual revenue stream is not available, there are other paths we can pursue,” Carey says. He adds that the “most exciting” opportunity for Hulu is to focus on boosting subscriptions. Broadcasters can add “original and other unique product” and “take advantage of its leadership position in the digital space.”
Cable networks, film, and television propelled revenues for the first three months of 2013, although the company acknowledges that ad sales were hurt by ratings declines at American Idol. News Corp says it generated $2.90B in net income, +190% vs the period last year, on revenues of $9.54B, +13.5%. The top line was well ahead of the $9.14B that analysts expected. The bottom line number includes $2.43B in gains from overseas business deals, as well as $42M in costs related to the UK hacking scandal investigations and $25M in costs tied to the effort to spin off the publishing assets. With those stripped out, earnings fell 9.4% and equaled 36 cents a share – bulls-eye with the consensus forecast. Cable network revenues were +17.1% to $2.78B, with operating income +17.4% to $993M. The company says that domestic affiliate revenues were +11% but ad sales were just +2% in contrast to last year when Fox News benefited from political ads and regional sports networks had more basketball games. Life Of Pi helped to boost Filmed Entertainment revenues 17% to $2.01B with operating income +6.3% to $289M. A near doubling of retransmission consent payments and lower programming costs helped the broadcast operation see a 1.4% increase in revenues and 14.6% growth in operating income to $196M. But the Publishing unit struggled as ad sales at the Australian newspapers fell. It reported revenues -4.3% to $1.94B and operating income -34.6% to $85M. CEO Rupert Murdoch says that the company …
He produces and voices a good chunk of Fox’s Sunday animation block but Seth MacFarlane has never been on The Simpsons until now. The multitasking MacFarlane will make his debut on TV longest running scripted series’ season finale on May 19. He will guest voice as “Ben,” a married man who Marge gets to know online on a swingers site. Lisa Lampanelli is also guest voicing on The Simpsons’ one-hour Season 24 ender. Oscar host and The Family Guy, American Dad and The Cleveland Show creator, EP and voice actor MacFarlane joins a long long line of exalted Simpsons guest stars including Thomas Pynchon, Johnny Cash, Tom Waits, Buzz Aldrin, John Waters and News Corp boss himself Rupert Murdoch, who appeared in Season 10.
Tom Mockridge, the former CEO of Rupert Murdoch’s News International, has been named successor to Virgin Media‘s outgoing CEO Neil Berkett. The UK’s Virgin Media is in the process of being acquired by John Malone’s Liberty Global in a $23.3B deal, setting the stage for a battle of the billionaires in the UK pay-TV sector where Murdoch’s Sky is the number one operator and Virgin is number two. Mockridge resigned as the News International head in December 2012 after assuming the reins in July 2011 amid the phone hacking scandal. He spent more than two decades at News International owner News Corp. where he also held the posts of chief executive of European television operations and chief executive of Sky Italia. Liberty’s takeover of Virgin will be voted on by shareholders in June with the acquisition to close shortly thereafter. Berkett will leave Virgin when the deal is finalized.
No surprise about who topped the list of 2012′s highest paid CEOs at the media companies whose compensation practices I track most closely. (See here for an explanation). CBS’ Les Moonves returns to the head of the pack with $62.2M, even though his package was 11.1% smaller than it was in 2011. That was an anomaly: The top 20 collectively made $542.7M, up from $416.6M in 2011, according to company proxy statements filed at the SEC. It took $25.9M to crack the Top 10 — last year Time Warner Cable’s Glenn Britt made it with $16.4M. The most notable change in this year’s list vs 2011 is the jump by Liberty Media’s Greg Maffei to No. 2 from No. 28 as his company adjusted stock options just in case the feds change the corporate deduction this year for performance-based compensation.
Yahoo’s Marissa Mayer also joins the top 10 following her move there from Google. Her appearance also highlights a quirk in this year’s list which has more CEOs than companies: Yahoo had three CEOs last year (Mayer is still there) and there were two apiece at Sirius XM (James Meyer replaced Mel Karmazin) and Cinemark (Tim Warner is now in charge). Also, remember that this list just includes corporate CEOs, not division chiefs or board chairs. I’ll be back soon with a list of the highest-paid media execs. The numbers on the right are the amount in millions of dollars for the total compensation as reported by each company.
Here’s our list of 2012′s highest-paid media CEOs:
EXCLUSIVE: Big Media companies don’t tell you when something’s rotten with the corporate culture. But this list should help you begin your search. This is Deadline’s third annual tally of out-of-whack CEO compensation. It’s an account of chiefs who not only make vastly more than you and me, but also collect far more than their closest colleagues at their own companies. Corporate governance experts become concerned when a CEO consistently makes at least three times more than the median for the four other highest-paid execs that the SEC requires companies to list in the annual proxy statement. That’s the standard I use, and it indicates that 14 out of 31 media companies that I tracked and that have already filed 2012 data failed the test — in many cases miserably.
Out of whack CEO pay can send a poisonous message to employees, including others in the C-suite. Internal pay parity “is critical to ensuring fairness and encouraging a collaborative team effort,” News Corp says in its proxy. Huge disparities also can tip you off to troublesome boardroom beliefs. It might indicate that directors lack faith in the business or leadership team — and fear that things will unravel if the top dog leaves. It may be a symptom of corporate groupthink where people give the chief credit for everything that goes well, and seek scapegoats for everything that doesn’t. Or it might mean that directors are beholden to the CEO — or share a cynical and grandiose sense of entitlement — and see nothing wrong with helping him (it’s almost always “him”) stuff his pockets with shareholders’ money, even where there’s little danger that he might leave if paid less. Whatever the case, researchers find that all too often the damage from such obeisance to the CEO eventually hurts a company’s performance and stock price. (For example, here, here, here, and here.)
This list looks at the biggest and best known infotainment providers. I include Web-based companies such as AOL and Yahoo that produce and sell their own content, and added Facebook which depends on ad sales. But I left out ones including Apple and Verizon that generate most of their revenues from hardware or personal communications services. (I’ve also left out Google, where the top execs benefit from stock performance and only collect a symbolic $1 in compensation.) For context, I’ve also noted how many people the company employs, and how that’s changed since the last fiscal year, to see whether these fabulously rich CEOs were job creators. The data isn’t nearly as revealing as it ought to be. For example, the SEC doesn’t require companies to specify how many jobs are based in the U.S., or even how many are full time. I’ve also included the CEO’s 2012 compensation rank among other media chiefs in our list, as well as among all media executives listed in their company proxies, and the average compensation over the last three years. (To avoid having them counted twice, I combined the compensation that Sumner Redstone collects as chairman of CBS and Viacom, and that Charles Dolan collects at Cablevision and AMC Networks.)
A few things to keep in mind: The SEC reporting rules only cover the top-paid executives of publicly traded U.S. companies. That means we’ll miss a lot of highly paid people who work at subsidiaries of a big company; Universal Studios’ Ron Meyer may be a big deal in Hollywood, but he didn’t make the top echelon at his corporate parent Comcast. Also, the pay data given to the SEC can spike in a year when an executive cashes in stock or collects deferred compensation. Averages also can be skewed when people on the list come and go in the middle of the year. So consider this to be a starting point to judge whether a CEO was paid fairly — not a final verdict.
I’ll be back soon with additional information including a similar list showing CEOs whose pay was more in line with his or her colleagues. Here’s how the out-of-whack CEOs stack up for 2012:
1. Live Nation: Michael Rapino. The concert and ticketing giant had a so-so year generating higher revenues but even higher costs — and a net loss. Last year’s big tours included Madonna, Lady Gaga, Coldplay, Roger Waters, and Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band. Company shares appreciated 8.1% in 2012, lagging the benchmark Standard & Poor’s 500 which was +12.7%. But the big excitement took place at year-end with the surprising departure of Chairman Irving Azoff, taking performers he represents including Eagles, Van Halen, and Christina Aguilera. That left Rapino clearly in charge — but under the watchful eye of Liberty Media, which owns nearly 27% of the stock. With a flood of option awards, the CEO’s compensation rose 138.4% to $28.5M (The package: $2.2M salary, $243,281 bonus, $2.6M stock awards, $19M option awards, $4.4M non-equity compensation, $46,408 other compensation.) That was a whopping 17.0 times more than the median for the four other highest paid execs — up from last year’s 5.5 times — and 46% of the pie. Even these numbers underplay the disparity in executive pay: The group of other execs includes Azoff who made $27.4M. The company had 7,100 full time employees at year end, up 500. (Pay rank among media CEOs: 9. Among all media execs: 11. Average annual pay over last three years: $18.7M.)
BSkyB revenues were up 6% to £5.38B ($8.37B) with operating profit beating forecasts by jumping 9% to £994M ($1.55B). The News Corp.-controlled company announced its third-quarter results this morning with CEO Jeremy Darroch noting that it would add 550 jobs to meet demand and serve a growing customer base. He added that the number of Internet- connected Sky+HD boxes grew by almost 45,000 each week during the quarter, leading to a five-fold increase in On Demand downloads and a 37% growth in movie rentals against last year. Britain’s largest pay-TV operator said it had over 30M paid-for subscription products across TV, broadband and telephony the first time in its history. Its customer base is now at 10.7M in the UK and Ireland. The churn rate was up, however, to 10.8% versus 10.1% in the comparable quarter last year. BSkyB competes most notably with BT and Virgin Media in the UK and is likely to see that competition heat up with John Malone’s Liberty Global recently getting the go-ahead from European authorities to acquire Virgin in a $23.3B takeover.
EXCLUSIVE… 2ND UPDATE: I’ve learned that Pete Levinsohn, president of Fox New Media and Digital Distribution for News Corp, wanted more of a domain at the studio but couldn’t convince Twentieth Century Fox film chairman Jim Gianopulos. So he’s leaving for a big Universal job – President and Chief Distribution Officer of Universal Pictures. In this role, Levinsohn will oversee worldwide home entertainment, new media and digital strategy, technology, and international and domestic television distribution. He will work alongside Universal Pictures Chairman Adam Fogelson, co-Chairman Donna Langley, and Universal Pictures President Jimmy Horowitz on all aspects of Universal’s business. Levinsohn and Horowitz will share responsibility for Universal’s business development and strategic planning division with Horowitz focusing on the production side. President of Domestic Theatrical Distribution Nikki Rocco’s job doesn’t change: she heads the company’s North American theatrical distribution operations reporting to Fogelson.
Levinsohn will report to Fogelson who said in a statement issued after my scoop: “Peter is one of the foremost leaders in the space where technology meets entertainment. He is a seasoned strategic manager whose portfolio perfectly augments our leadership team. At this pivotal time in our business, Peter will be a real asset to Universal in meeting the challenges and harnessing the opportunities of an ever evolving business.” As the leader of Fox’s digital media business, Levinsohn drove digital media strategy at Fox Interactive Media and other departments. He’s …
UPDATE, 7:32 AM: I misread the Murdoch family voting plan and want to clarify. The group will participate — but only up to 39.4% of the total after factoring out the disqualified ballots from non-U.S. citizens. The cap was spelled out in the company’s proxy last September.
PREVIOUS, 5:51 AM: The meeting will take place in NYC’s Citi Auditorium and News Corp shareholders of record as of April 19 will be able to vote, the company says this morning in SEC filings. The process may be a little complicated, though. The decision to split into two companies — one with mostly entertainment assets and the other focused on publishing — involves the transfer of 29 U.S. television station licenses. “Under U.S. federal law, no broadcast station licensee may be owned by a corporation if more than 25% of that corporation’s stock is owned or voted by non-U.S. stockholders if the Federal Communications Commission finds that the public interest will be served by the refusal or revocation of the license,” News Corp says. It has asked the FCC to let non-U.S. shareholders vote on all of the bylaw changes regarding the split but hasn’t received a response yet. If there’s no ruling by the voting date, or the FCC rejects News Corp’s request, then the company will suspend the votes of non-U.S. shareholders. Australia-born CEO Rupert Murdoch became a U.S. citizen in 1985. He and …