Despite the growing talk about pay TV cord cutting, providers can feel OK — not great — about consumer attitudes toward them, according to the latest annual measure from the American Customer Satisfaction Index. Subscribers gave cable, satellite, and telco video providers the highest overall satisfaction score ACSI has seen in the 13 years it has measured the public’s feelings about subscription TV. The score of 68 is up 3% vs last year, which ACSI calls “a glimmer of good news.” Even so, researchers say that pay TV remains “among the lowest-scoring industries” they study. Annual price hikes of 6% or so and “sporadic reliability” keep the group just slightly ahead of airlines (67) and Internet service providers (65) but well behind TV and video players/recorders (86), soft drinks (84) and autos and light vehicles (83). (Internet news and information services also come out ahead at 73.) Consumer attitudes vary widely by provider. Time Warner Cable took it on the chin with an industry-low score of 60, down 5% from 2012. Moving up we see Comcast (63, +3%), Charter (64, +8%) and Cox (65, +3%). Satellite and telco video providers scored highest with Verizon FiOS leading (73, -1%) followed by DirecTV (72, +6%), AT&T U-verse (71, +4%) and Dish Network (70, +1%).
Alex Winter’s documentary about the rise and fall of Napster will open at Manhattan’s Village East Cinema on Friday, June 21 and the Sundance Sunset Cinemas in Los Angeles on June 28, VH1 announced today. Focusing on Napster and its founders Shawn Fanning and Sean Parker, Downloaded examines the rise of digital media sharing and “VH1 is so proud of this timely project, and we want to showcase it in as many ways as possible,” said Brad Abramson, Vice President, Programming and Production, VH1 in a statement today. This comes on the heels of VH1′s distribution deal with AOL. Additional theatrical bookings for Downloaded are scheduled for Albuquerque, Austin, Chicago, Columbus, Grand Rapids, Martha’s Vineyard, San Francisco and Seattle, as well as other cities to be announced, in partnership with specialty distributor Richard Abramowitz of Abramorama. On July 1, the film will debut on several On Demand platforms including iTunes, Amazon Instant Video, Comcast, DirecTV, Time Warner Cable and XBOX, in partnership with digital entertainment curator FilmBuff. Produced by VH1 for its rockDocs series, Downloaded premiered at this year’s SXSW Film Festival. Following the theatrical and On Demand windows, VH1 will air the film, most likely in 2014. Downloaded is written, directed and executive produced by Alex Winter and executive produced by Maggie Malina.
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.
Univision Announces Partnership With Robert Rodriguez’s El Rey Network; ‘Dusk Till Dawn’ TV Series Planned
Looks like Univision saved something extra for their upfront presentation today in NY. Promising “fun, fast-paced entertainment” Univision Networks president Cesar Conde announced that the company has a new partnership with El Rey Network, the upcoming English-language cable network from filmmaker Robert Rodriguez and John Fogelman and Cristina Patwa’s FactoryMade. El Rey is set to launch at the end of the year via Comcast. Univision will be responsible for the back-office operations, sales and distribution of the network. “The El Rey Network is going to be the home of kick-ass entertainment,” said Rodriguez today onstage. The filmmaker said that the first shows from El Rey will be a TV version of his and Quentin Tarantino’s Dusk Till Dawn movie and an as yet unnamed action series developed by Fringe and Star Trek Into Darkness producers Alex Kurtzman and Robert Orci’s K/O Paper Products.
The network today also announced Va Por Ti, a new singing competition series for Sunday nights. Additionally, Conde said Univision will be showing the award show Premios TyNovelas that will cover Hispanic programming in both Mexico and the U.S. The show will air the same day in the States and Mexico.
NBC Broadcasting Chairman Ted Harbert told advertisers today that the 2013-14 season “will be better than this season” as NBCUniversal “speaks to our customers with unity, clarity and precision….Everybody is talking to each other a lot.” Other execs echoed the theme that they’re on the case to turn things around following NBC’s disappointing ratings this season. “We have no illusions about how much work is ahead of us to grow our business,” NBC Entertainment Chairman Bob Greenblatt said at his company’s upfront presentation. Although he says he “doesn’t usually believe in testing” for new shows, this year “testing really seemed to go our way.” NBCU Advertising Sales President Linda Yaccarino called the upcoming slate “an outstanding lineup filled with innovation and creativity.” She adds that following Comcast’s acquisition of the company from General Electric, “NBCUniversal is a different kind of media company” that’s “determined to invest in the content, analytics, technology and people to help you sell your products.”
She touted Comcast‘s ability to sell ads and promote programs across NBC, Telemundo and 18 cable networks. “Making it easier for you to do business with us is the top priority…We’ve done it. It works. And we can …
The former top Hearst Corp entertainment exec left that gig in March after his involvement in a sexting scandal and now has been hired as Vice Chairman at El Rey Network, the English-language cable network geared toward young adult audiences from Robert Rodriguez and John Fogelman and Cristina Patwa’s FactoryMade Ventures. The Comcast channel will launch in December. Before his job as President of Hearst Entertainment & Syndication, Scott Sassa was President, NBC West Coast, from 1999-2002, President of the Turner Entertainment Group, launching TNT, Cartoon Network and Turner Classic Movies during his tenure, and was was on the team that launched Fox Broadcasting Co. At Hearst, Sassa oversaw the company’s interests in ESPN, Lifetime and other networks including the History Channel. He brought Mark Burnett to the fold (Hearst owns 50% of Mark Burnett Prods) and was a producer on Burnett’s blockbuster History miniseries The Bible. El Rey’s first hire, Antoinette Alfonso Zel, is now Chief Marketing Officer.
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:
John McCain Introduces Cable A La Carte Legislation To Stop Bundling & Broadcasters Moving To Pay TV
John McCain wants to unbundle cable and to stop broadcasters like CBS and Fox from moving their stations to pay TV. The Arizona senator right now on the Senate floor is introducing The TV Consumer Freedom Act of 2013 (read it here). The legislation is intended to “allow the consumer, the television viewer who subscribes to cable, to have à la carte capability. In other words, not required to buy a whole bunch of channels that that consumer may not want wish to subscribe to,” McCain said moments ago. The former GOP Presidential candidate also went after broadcasters like CBS and Fox who have said that they could move to cable if they lose in the courts against Barry Diller’s Aereo streaming service. “We’ll also establish consequences if broadcasters choose to downgrade their over-the-air service,” McCain told the Senate. His legislation would also eliminate the sports blackout rule “in events that are held in publicly financed stadiums.”
The proposal is expected to meet heavy resistance among the cable companies. ”Only Dish and Cablevision have been for a la carte and smaller bundles because we think it’s consumer-friendly”, Dish Network chairman Charlie Ergen said during his company’s conference call today. “Having said that, there are five big groups that probably have enough clout in Congress to stop that legislation today. He added that “the marketplace is going to determine” if the price is too high. “There’s an awful lot of people who don’t consume (200 channels)”, he said, “and most of us would like to look for creative solutions”.
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.)
PHILADELPHIA–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Comcast Corporation (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK), a global media and technology company, announced today that it has promoted Cathy Avgiris to Chief Financial Officer of Comcast Cable, effective July 1, 2013. Ms. Avgiris, a 21-year Comcast veteran, will report to Neil Smit, President and Chief Executive Officer, Comcast Cable. She succeeds Dave Scott, who is retiring after twenty years with the Company. Ms. Avgiris has been instrumental in the growth and development of Comcast for more than twenty years. In her current role as Executive Vice President and General Manager, Communications and Data Services, Ms. Avgiris leads Comcast’s XFINITY Internet, XFINITY Voice and consumer wireless business.
NBCU considered this “such a minor move” that it didn’t even think it was worth announcing. Wow, what a diss of NBC Broadcasting Chairman Ted Harbert, who has been in the Witness Protection Program ever since Comcast bought NBCUniversal. And when the pint-sized putz isn’t hiding from angry O&Os and affiliates and advertisers fed up with yet another lousy network primetime season, he’s screaming at reporters who didn’t share his belief that Animal Practice would be a homerun this season. (Media 1, Ted 0.) In actuality the only impetus for handing Harbert an infinitesimal new late night role is the multimillion-dollar remodeling of the 30 Rock studio that will house The Tonight Show With Jimmy Fallon when it moves to New York. Harbert is NYC-based and in charge of NBC’s buildings, so he was tapped. (Was Kenneth Parcell too busy?) Let me emphasize there is no change in the late-night reporting structure, still overseen by Paul Telegdy, president of alternative programming and late night and who reports to NBC Entertainment chairman Bob Greenblatt. (Meanwhile, Greenblatt and Harbert hate each other.) With Telegdy focused on NBC’s top-rated series The Voice, which tapes in LA, he has little time for frequent bicoastal trips. So the underemployed Harbert is Telegdy’s new gofer on 3 NYC shows now: The Tonight Show, Late Show and Saturday Night Live. Harbert in the late night realm is best known for when he was E! Entertainment chief …
There was laughter at the White House moments ago when the President, who was also smiling, said he anticipates “a speedy confirmation process.” That may be too much to expect following his nomination of Core Capital Partners’ Tom Wheeler, 67, to be the nation’s chief communications regulator. But the FCC won’t be leaderless once Chairman Julius Genachowski steps down: President Obama designated Commissioner Mignon Clyburn to be Acting Chairwoman until Wheeler’s aboard. Wheeler’s mandate is to make sure that the U.S. is “at the cutting edge” of technological change, promoting “American ingenuity and American innovation,” the President said. Genachowski says that he can “attest to Tom’s commitment to harness the power of communications technology to improve people’s lives, to drive our global competitiveness, and to advance the public interest.”
Here’s yet another mixed-bag Big Media report on this unusually busy morning, although the 2% pre-market jump in Comcast‘s shares suggests that the earnings growth here is especially impressive. The cable and entertainment colossus generated $1.65B in net income in Q1, +13.7% vs the period last year, on revenues of $15.3B, +2.9%. Analysts thought that revenues would come in a little higher, at $15.4B. But earnings of 54 cents a share beat forecasts for 50 cents. NBCUniversal did its part, with operating cash flow +17.2% to $953M — despite a 2.4% drop in revenues to $5.34B. (It would have been up 2.4% if you factor out last year’s $259M from NBC’s Super Bowl coverage.) Cable network revenue was +4.6% to $2.2B with operating cash flow +6.2% to $859M. Comcast says that affiliate fees were up 8.6% while ad price increases offset lower ratings to raise sales 2.5%. The story’s drearier at the broadcast operation: Its operating loss increased to $35M from $14M last year while revenues fell 18.5% to $1.5B. (The drop would be just 5.3% without last year’s Super Bowl.) The main culprits, the company says, were “lower primetime ratings at the NBC broadcast network and lower content licensing revenue.” In Filmed Entertainment, the company says that Les Miserables helped to propel revenues +2% to $1.2B with operating cash flow up to $69M from $6M in the period last year. Theme Parks also performed with revenues +12.2% to $462M and operating cash flow +10.3% to $173M. CEO Brian Roberts says that following his company’s acquisition of General Electric’s stake in NBCU it will “drive innovation and operational excellence to deliver superior entertainment and communications choices for consumers.”
3RD UPDATE – FINAL: (See Conan and Obama videos here and here.) We warned you not to expect much from tonight’s White House Correspondents’ Dinner. And true to form it failed to deliver. Bland to a fault Conan O’Brien didn’t lay a glove on celebrity-in-chief Barack Obama. (Bring back Seth Meyers…) But the President got an easy laugh with a showbiz joke that couldn’t have made Comcast too happy. (He noted that, of 22 recent basketball shots, he had 2 hits and 20 misses. “The executives at NBC asked, ‘What’s your secret?’” POTUS said.) O’Brien’s best line of the night was comparing the relationship between Obama and Speaker of the House John Boehner to a blind date between Anderson Cooper and Rachel Maddow. (“In theory they understand each other’s positions. But deep down you know nothing’s ever going to happen.”) Obama got in the nastiest media dig. Noting that CNN has “taken some knocks” – because of errors during reporting on the Boston Marathon bombings - he said, “Fact is I admire their commitment to cover all sides of a story – just in case one of them happens to be accurate.” Obama even stabbed his liberal media cronies. He said saying seeing David Axelrod going to work for MSNBC was “a nice change of pace since MSNBC used to work for David Axelrod”.
Steven Spielberg – whom Obama called “my wonderful friend” - played a pivotal role in a video claiming the …
The bump came mostly from option awards which Starz‘s former parent, Liberty Media, was eager to award last year. The company feared that the feds might tinker with the corporate tax deduction for performance-based pay “in response to the widespread ‘fiscal cliff’ concerns,” Starz says in its first proxy as an independent company, filed today at the SEC. Liberty spun it off in January. CEO Chris Albrecht‘s package consisted of $1M salary, $100,000 bonus, $11M in option awards, $750,000 in non-equity incentives, and $25,834 in other compensation. His total is 7.8 times the median for Starz’s other top executives, well above the level that causes concern among corporate governance activists that the CEO wields too much power. Liberty Chairman John Malone controls about 42.8% of Starz’s voting stock with additional shares held by allies Robert Bennett (3.2%) and Comcast (3.2%). That should make short work of the company’s annual meeting, to be held June 6 in Beverly Hills.
CHICAGO, April 24, 2013—Tribune Company today announced the appointment of Dana Zimmer as President of Distribution for Tribune Broadcasting, overseeing distribution of the company’s broadcast and television content portfolio to the cable, satellite and telco industries. She will be responsible for the strategy, execution and day-to-day management of Tribune’s relationships with all of its distribution partners. Zimmer will assume her new duties May 13, and report to Peter Liguori, Tribune’s chief executive officer.