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Big Media Moguls With Out-Of-Whack Compensation: Exclusive Deadline List

Highest Paid Media ExecutivesHere’s a question to ask yourself if you aren’t sure whether media mogul pay reflects merit or cronyism: Did Viacom and CBS executive chairman Sumner Redstone deserve $93M, an 80% year-over-year increase, in the combined compensation he received from the companies in 2013? The answer to this query, and others like it, seems especially relevant here in Deadline’s fourth annual effort to try to make sense of the outsized sums media companies pay their leaders. They’re among the most lavishly compensated in corporate America where CEOs made 206 times what the average worker did in 2011, up from 26.5 times in 1978, economist Thomas Piketty notes in his surprise bestselling new book about growing wealth disparities. Compensation 1That strikes many as fundamentally unfair: The California legislature is weighing a bill that would raise tax rates for companies that give their CEOs more than 100 times the average pay for their workers.

Here’s our contribution to the discussion: a tally of the highest-paid executives in media, with metrics and analysis to help you decide what they’re worth. The chart on the right (click to enlarge) shows media execs whose compensation exceeded $10M in 2013 according to company proxies. Below you’ll find our in-depth look at the top 11 earners on the list. Why 11? That enables us to add Rupert Murdoch, who shouldn’t be left out of any discussion of media wealth and power. Those in this Group of 11 collectively made $448.6M in 2013, +15.6% vs 2012, with their median pay  +8.3% to $32.5M.

Out Of Whack – 2012
Out Of Whack — 2011
Out Of Whack — 2010

One of the things you’ll see is how much Redstone contributes to the high level of executive pay in media. He and other leaders at corporations he controls occupy four of the 11 spots on our list. That has a ripple effect: All companies represented here (with a caveat, discussed below, for News Corp) include Viacom and CBS in the list of peers against which they benchmark pay for their own execs. And Redstone isn’t all that unusual. You frequently see high pay at enterprises, like many in media, run by families that own little equity but control decision-making by virtue of their supervoting shares.

Boards usually justify their high outlays by pointing to metrics of company success, which they credit to the CEOs. But while those on this list are smart and shrewd, it’s worth asking how much of their good fortune — including their rising stock prices — also represents good luck. Keep in mind that all of the media powers represented by this year’s top 11 own broadcast and/or pay TV channels. Cable and satellite companies complain that these programmers have oligopoly power to raise prices on distributors. Many are aggressively doing so, which distributors say pressures them to raise your rates. Programmers also benefit from a new source of cash: license fees from digital services including Netflix and Amazon Prime.

Executive compensation payOur list and the charts that follow include Deadline’s annual Out-of-Whack analysis. It illustrates not only that CEOs make vastly more than the public. Some boards are far more generous to the top dog than they are to others in the C-suite. That could be a sign that directors are in the CEO’s pocket, or lack confidence in their executive bench, many corporate governance experts say. In any case, research shows that lopsided outlays promote groupthink, damage morale, and often depress a company’s stock price. It’s a judgement call as to how much of a disparity is too much. Yet those who track the phenomenon typically become alarmed when a CEO makes more than three times the median for the four other top execs whose income must be disclosed to shareholders per SEC rules. Eighteen of the 30 companies we monitor and that have filed information for 2013 failed the test, often miserably, up from 14 out of 31 last year. Read More »

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Bob Iger Reveals New $800M Investment In Shanghai Disney Resort

By | Monday April 28, 2014 @ 4:15pm PDT

Bob Iger“Since we announced this project and put shovels in the ground, we’ve seen tremendous development in China” said Bob Iger today of the Shanghai Disney Resort. Citing “more interest in the Disney China-And-Hollywood__130605112955-150x150__130925193515__131105220131__140418151541brand in China” and surges in internal tourism, the CEO today announced a big further investment in the resort at the Milken Institute’s Global Conference. “We’ve decided we’d accelerate the expansion,” Iger said as he announced Disney is putting another $800 million into the project. Set to open in late 2015, that now makes Shanghai Disney Resort a $5.5 billion investment. “This is a big step and a huge vote of confidence in the project,” Iger told the standing room only ballroom which included former LA Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa in the front row.

RelatedDisney’s First Images Of Shanghai Resort

Disney owns 43% of the still under construction resort with local partner Shanghai Shendi Group having the other 57%.The new investment announced today is coming proportionately from both parties based on their percentage of ownership. Under development since 2005, the estimated 963-acre facility will feature a theme park, a 46,000-square-meter retail area, dining and entertainment, two hotels, a lake, recreational facilities, transit hubs and parking. Read More »

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UPDATE: ESPN Can Generate Steady Profit Growth Through 2016 CFO Tells Wall Street

By | Thursday April 17, 2014 @ 11:06am PDT

espnUPDATED: Following CEO Bob Iger’s lead,  Disney CFO Jay Rasulo won’t break out financial numbers for ESPN. But he strongly hints that its financial prospects are rosy by offering a few projections for Disney’s cable networks, which are dominated by ESPN. He tells investors to expect high single digit annual growth in revenues from pay TV distributors through 2016, and a similar growth rate for operating income. He’s confident about these projections because Disney has programming deals with eight of the 10 largest pay TV distributors, with the remaining two due by year end. In addition, most of its contracts with sports leagues last for years. The company won’t project ad sales but says ESPN has strong pricing power.

PREVIOUS, 11:06 AM: Disney’s dumping a lot of data about ESPN this afternoon to ease Wall Street fears that the company’s cash cow could face leaner times due its rising costs and new competition from channels led by Fox Sports 1. CEO Bob Iger kicked off today’s investor meeting in Bristol, Conn vowing that he’s going to continue to invest” in ESPN which he sees as core to his strategy to build brands and franchises. Disney doesn’t break out financial numbers for the channel, but he noted that the company’s pay TV networks account for 32% of its revenues — and 56% of its operating income. President John Skipper and other ESPN execs Read More »

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Former TV Anchor Willow Bay To Head USC Journalism School

By | Wednesday March 26, 2014 @ 12:16pm PDT

"Aladdin" On Broadway Opening Night - Arrivals & Curtain CallFormer Good Morning America Sunday co-anchor Willow Bay today was appointed the director of USC’s School of Journalism. “The breadth of Willow Bay’s experiences, skills and talents is extraordinary,” said Ernest Wilson III, dean of the USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism of the former ABC, CNN and NBC correspondent and Lifetime producer. “Her leadership will help our innovative school aggressively continue our path of creating and defining the digital future.’ Currently an editor at the Huffington Post and a special correspondent for Bloomberg News, Bay will take over her duties at USC in July.  “I look forward to leading the school as it educates and inspires the next generation of journalists and public relations professionals for the future and contributes groundbreaking academic research into these fields,” said Bay today. Bay is married to Disney CEO Bob Iger.

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How Replacing Anne Sweeney Could Reshape Disney’s TV Portfolio

By | Thursday March 20, 2014 @ 5:23pm PDT
Nellie Andreeva

Disney-ABC-EspnWhile attention had been focused on who would replace Anne Sweeney atop Disney/ABC’s TV Group, observers ponder what the choice would say about Walt Disney Co. CEO Bob Iger plans for the future of the company. Thomas Staggs and Jay Rasulo both have already done stints as CFO and head of the Disney parks division and are considered leading contenders to succeed Iger in the top post when he departs in 2016. sweeneyIf one of them is chosen to oversee Disney’s non-sports TV assets, the appointment would anoint that executive as an Iger heir apparent as the job would give him entertainment experience, a background both Iger and his predecessor Michael Eisner had before taking on the CEO job. For whoever within the Disney Co. takes the job (and Iger had indicated he doesn’t intend to look outside the company), it would be a learning curve. The only executive with experience in both TV programming and managing global portfolio, A+E Networks CEO Nancy Dubuc, is under a long-term contract at a very successful company, which Disney doesn’t own outright but is a 50-50 partner with Hearst, making a transition to Disney-ABC problematic (though not impossible).

The other possibility that has been gaining momentum — of splitting Sweeney’s portfolio into two — is even more intriguing. ABC’s morning golden boy, News President Ben Sherwood, is being groomed for a Jeff Zucker-type career trajectory from morning TV to a top network job, with another executive, like Rebecca Campbell, president of the ABC Stations Group, possibly overseeing the rest of the portfolio. Read More »

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Disney: ‘Star Wars’ To Start Shooting In May, Pick Up 30 Years After End Of ‘Return Of The Jedi’

By | Tuesday March 18, 2014 @ 11:53am PDT

star-wars-logo__130325012712-200x144Bob Iger said today during Disney’s annual shareholder meeting in Portland, OR that Star Wars Episode VII will begin principal photography in May in London, and the movie will pick up 30 years after the events in Return Of The Jedi. It’s finally a couple of concrete pieces of news from the studio about the pic, which JJ Abrams is directing and co-writing with Lawrence Kasdan. “It’s really in the process so there isn’t much I can share with you,” Iger said today, adding that there will be “familiar faces including a trio of young leads” but added that the only confirmed castmember remains R2-D2. That comes amid rampant cast speculation from all comers (the most solid rumor is probably Girls star Adam Driver as the main baddie). Iger told shareholders that the movie “really looks amazing.” The pic opens December 18, 2015.

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UPDATE: Bob Iger Talks Up ‘Frozen’, ‘Star Wars’ & New ‘Incredibles’ And ‘Cars’ Movies As Shareholders Re-Elect Board

iger 2mouse smallThe Disney CEO made his observations as he kicked off his company’s annual shareholder meeting in Portland, Ore. Frozen has already generated more than $1B globally and, with its successful open in Japan, should pass Toy Story 3‘s sales of $1.06B.  TS3 made $126.7M in Japan. The new film’s success has returned Disney’s animation studio to its “rightful place” as one of the world’s greatest, Bob Iger says. Pixar, meanwhile, will produce a third Cars movie and is developing a sequel to 2004′s The Incredibles, Iger also said, with confirmation coming via Disney/Pixar’s Facebook page that it is “currently working on two new films featuring your favorite characters from Incredibles and Cars.” Iger also crowed about the company’s market value of more than $143B, up from about $100B last year. Incredibles“I’d call that a great year,” he says. Iger told investors that he can’t share much about Star Wars VII, but said that principal photography will begin in May in London. In his opening comments the CEO also said that the Shanghai Disney park will feature a Pirates Of the Caribbean-themed attraction called Treasure Cove.

Disney: ‘Star Wars’ To Start Shooting In May, Pick Up 30 Years After End Of ‘Jedi’

Shanghai Disney Pirates of the CaribbeanNo surprises on the business side: All of the board nominees, who were unopposed, were re-elected according to the preliminary returns. Former Starbucks CEO Orin Smith trailed the pack with support from holders owning 92% of the votes cast. Iger was favored by 99%. Some 80% supported an advisory resolution endorsing the company’s executive compensation. Just 24% supported a shareholder proposal that Disney opposed that would have barred accelerated vesting of executives’ equity awards if there’s a change in control. Read More »

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Disney’s Avoids Shareholder Showdown With Last-Minute Board Guideline Change

By | Tuesday March 18, 2014 @ 5:25am PDT

The change appears to have appeased shareholders who are still seething over Disney’s decision to make Bob Iger both CEO and Chairman — and scratches a potentially embarrassing vote today over a proposal that could have made the process of selecting board members slightly more democratic. disney6The company says in an SEC filing this morning that it agreed to change its Corporate Governance Guidelines so that, in the future, the chairman will be an independent director unless the board decides it would be best to give one person both jobs. If it does, then directors have to justify it in writing every year and designate an independent board member to be the Lead Director. In return for the change, the California State Teachers Retirement System (CalSTRS) and others withdrew a proposal that would have required Disney to list in its proxy candidates for as many as a fifth of the board seats nominated by firms that own 3% or more of the shares for at least three years. Vanguard Group, State Street Global Advisors, BlackRock, MFS Investment Management, and the Laurene Powell Jobs Trust (which controls the shares formerly owned by Steve Jobs) are the only shareholders that would have qualified. Advisory firms Institutional Shareholder Services and Glass Lewis, and several major pension funds, supported the resolution similar to one endorsed last year by owners of about 40% of Disney’s shares.

Supporters said that the change would “enhance [Disney's] accountability to shareholders.” Many believe that the … Read More »

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Disney Unveils Plan To Coach And Invest In Startups

By | Wednesday February 12, 2014 @ 10:30am PST

If you have a fledgling consumer media or entertainment product company, then this is for you: The Walt Disney Company logoThe media giant says its new Los Angeles-based program —  called Disney Accelerator — will pick 10 companies to receive $120,000 in investment capital and three months of mentoring help from execs including CEO Bob Iger. The initiative will be “powered by” Techstars, which runs similar programs to identify investment opportunities at companies including Barclays, Nike, and Sprint. Disney has an April 16 deadline for applications to its program (check here), which begins June 30, and ends in September with an Investor Demo Day where teams introduce themselves to industry leaders and investors. “Disney Accelerator offers a unique collaboration between some of the best creative minds in the entertainment industry and the modern-day visionaries who are starting businesses on the strength of exciting new ideas,” says Disney EVP of Corporate Strategy and Business Development Kevin Mayer. Innovation SVP Michael Abrams will oversee the program. In addition to Iger, Disney’s mentoring team will include execs from Pixar, Marvel, Lucasfilm, ESPN and Walt Disney Imagineering.

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UPDATE: Disney’s Bob Iger Touts “Franchise Potential” Of ‘Frozen’ After Movies Fuel Q1 Ratings Surge

By | Wednesday February 5, 2014 @ 3:28pm PST

disney-logo__130110173452-200x133UPDATE, 3:28 PM: Bob Iger continued to tubthump for the red-hot Studio Entertainment division during the company’s analyst call–  and specifically Disney Animation’s runaway hit Frozen. While not going so far as to say that potential includes another feature film, the Disney CEO noted the pic, which is up for a pair of Oscars, has made $864.4M worldwide since its late November release, passing The Lion King as the company’s biggest animated hit ever — and that’s with China just opening and Japan to come in mid-March. “This has real franchise potential” across Disney’s businesses, frozen2Iger said, adding that in Disney’s parks “we will see Frozen in more places” along with Marvel properties including Iron Man. CFO Jay Rasulo said Frozen is the top-selling brand in Disney’s stores (followed by Disney Junior properties), which helped Consumer Products to gains in revenue and operating income.

Related: ‘Frozen’ Becomes Shining Star For Disney: Is Broadway Next?

Several analysts asked about Disney Interactive, a day after the unit said it would lay off about 200 employees. Iger touted the success of the Infinity business, which increased revenue and operating profit during the quarter, and said the next phase of Disney Interactive’s rollout will involve mining new iterations of characters. Iger said to look for more licensing deals as the division moves off more traditional platforms and zeroes into the mobile space “where the users are.” Rasulo said Q2 will see “downdraft” as there are no big names due out during the quarter.

Disney 1PREVIOUS, 1:18 PM: The stock is up, CEO Bob Iger is talking up the fiscal Q1 numbers on CNBC — and at first glance it looks like there’s enough in the results to justify all of that enthusiasm. Disney reported net income of $1.8B, +33% vs the period last year, on revenues of $12.3B, +9%. Analysts thought that the top line would come in a little lower, $12.2B. Diluted earnings at $1.04 a share handily beat expectations for 92 cents. Unlike at most Big Media companies, the Studio Entertainment unit was the star for Disney’s year-end quarter. Revenues rose 23% to $1.9B, with operating income +75% to $409M, as Frozen and Thor: The Dark World hammered last year’s results with Wreck-It-Ralph. The studio also benefited from sales to overseas streaming services. Media Networks revenues increased 4% to $5.3B with operating income +20% to $1.5B. ESPN and Disney’s 50% stake in A&E helped to drive a $325M increase in operating income to $1.3B for the cable networks unit. But ABC struggled with revenues falling 2% to $1.5B and operating income down 32% to $178M. Ad sales were hurt by lower ratings. Read More »

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Bob Iger Weighs A Broadway Show For ‘Frozen’: Fortune

Bob Iger spoke to the business magazine for a gushy feature posted today about how the animated musical film was, as he put it, “my proudest moment as the CEO of the Walt Disney Company.” frozenSenior Editor Jennifer Reingold says that Frozen — which could soon outgross The Lion King, not accounting for inflation — “appears to show that Disney Animation Studios is finally, finally back in the groove.” (The Wall Street Journal ran a similar piece yesterday saying that the film “caps a renaissance for Disney Animation Studios.”) Like our film editor Anita Busch posited last week, Iger tells Fortune that that Disney is talking about developing a show for Frozen although “We’re not demanding speed…We’re demanding excellence.” The company also is considering sequels. Sales of of licensed toys from the film were strong. Iger says the “exhilaration” from the studio’s success “was profound” following years of disappointments including 2009′s The Princess And The Frog. “It’s not about the bottom line. The bottom line is for the quarter. This is for something bigger and longer.” Disney Animation’s revival largely comes from a decision to sideline the number crunchers. “It was an executive-driven studio,” chief creative officer John Lasseter tells the magazine. “Now it’s a filmmaker-driven studio.” Tangled and Wreck-It Ralph beat expectations. But Frozen‘s success stands out, Iger says: “If you think long term about what Disney is and the success and the … Read More »

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Disney’s Bob Iger Made $34.3M In 2013, -14.7%

By | Monday December 23, 2013 @ 12:29pm PST

It’s not a criticism of the CEO’s work, the board notes in the company proxy just filed at the SEC. Bob Iger’s cash bonus fell because “the Company’s outperformance relative to financial measures established by the Compensation Committee did not match the magnitude of Bob Igeroutperformance delivered in fiscal 2012, demonstrating the effectiveness of the Company’s pay-for-performance compensation plan,” Disney says. Iger’s compensation package includes $2.5M in salary, $8.8M in stock awards, $8.5M in option awards, $13.6M in non-equity incentives, and $968,538 in other compensation. The “other” category includes $332,808 for personal air travel and $584,075 for security. Disney’s come under attack for Iger’s high compensation — and noted in the proxy that, in the board’s eyes, it has “generally been at or below the median of reported compensation for Media Industry Peers.” Last year was an exception because “the Company experienced exceptional performance.” Disney shares appreciated 24.7% in the 2013 fiscal year that ended in September. Iger’s 2013 compensation was 6.1 times the median for the other four top executives named in the proxy. That’s out of whack with the maximum of 3.0 times that corporate governance activists prefer, but slightly better than 2012 when Iger’s pay was 6.4 times higher than the average for his closest lieutenants at Disney. CFO Jay Rasulo was the second highest paid exec in 2013 with $10.7M.

Related: Twitter Chairman Jack Dorsey Joins Disney Board Read More »

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Bob Iger Talks Up Marvel-Netflix Deal, And Urges Patience On A Retrans Agreement With Dish Network

By | Thursday November 7, 2013 @ 3:30pm PST

The Marvel characters to be featured on Netflix in the four-series deal the companies announced today are “not among the most popular,” Disney CEO Bob Iger just told analysts. Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Iron Fist, and Luke Cage ”were never going to become feature films.” But that could change if the shows planned for the streaming service catch on. That makes the agreement “great for Netflix” — and opens “a great opportunity for Marvel to create more brand value…There are more opportunities beyond our platform to produce product for.”

The Disney chief also urged investors not to fret about the long time it’s taking for the entertainment giant to work out a new program carriage deal with Dish Network. The companies agreed to keep talking — without any programming black out — at the end of September when their previous agreement expired. “Progress is being made,” Iger says. Still, a deal “could take some time.” That’s because the negotiations are less about the price for carrying traditional TV channels than they are about the fees and conditions for Dish to stream Read More »

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Bob Iger To Receive Producers Guild’s 2014 Milestone Award

By | Wednesday October 9, 2013 @ 10:14am PDT

LOS ANGELES, CA (October 9, 2013) – The Producers Guild of America (PGA) announced today that The Walt Disney Company Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Bob Iger, will be honored with the 2014 Milestone Award. The award will be presented to Iger at the 25th Annual Producers Guild Awards ceremony on January 19, 2014 at the Beverly Hilton Hotel.

“I’ve had the great privilege of working with some of the world’s best storytellers,” said Robert A. Iger, Chairman and CEO, The Walt Disney Company. “I am constantly inspired by the creativity and innovation at Disney, as thousands of people around the world work together to tell great stories in spectacular new ways. For 90 years, Disney has redefined what’s possible and raised the standard of excellence in entertainment. We continue to strive to live up to that legacy, and it’s very rewarding to see our efforts recognized in such a meaningful way by the Producers Guild of America.”

The Milestone Award is the Guild’s highest honor recognizing an individual or team who has made historic contributions to the entertainment industry. In the past, the Producers Guild has paid tribute to such industry leaders as Clint Eastwood, Jeffrey Katzenberg, Steven Spielberg, James Cameron, Ron Meyer, Walt Disney, and the 2013 recipients Bob and Harvey Weinstein, among others.

Read More »

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Bob Iger: Netflix Hasn’t Cornered The Market For Premium Streaming Video

By | Tuesday September 24, 2013 @ 6:55am PDT

With low barriers to entry on the Internet, rivals to Netflix “are going to use technology to offer varied product” making the competition for viewers “more of a marathon than a sprint,” Disney CEO Bob Iger told investors this morning at the Goldman Sachs Communacopia Conference. It will be very hard for them to monopolize the marketplace.” That’s probably what you’d expect to hear from a company that’s also a major investor in Hulu, a Netflix rival. But his upbeat views of a highly competitive Internet world stood in stark contrast to his equally optimistic description of the benefits of maintaining a traditional pay TV business where consumers have little choice. “The $75 [a month], 100-channel expanded basic package is a really good bargain,” Iger says. “The consumer is getting a good deal.” He also sees no problem as companies including Disney ratchet up their programming fees. Could price inflation lead to cord cutting, or young people choosing not to subscribe at all? “We don’t see evidence of that occurring.” And consumers may see no impact because pay TV distributors “may have to accept lower margins on their video business.” That could make sense because video is “very important” to help them sell lucrative broadband and phone services.

Related: Iger Says ‘Lone Ranger’ Not Responsible For Bruckheimer Break Read More »

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Bob Iger Says ‘Lone Ranger’ Not Responsible For Break With Jerry Bruckheimer: Video

By | Monday September 23, 2013 @ 4:40pm PDT

The producer “will probably end up making more films for us” including a fifth Pirates Of The Caribbean, the Disney CEO told CNBC’s Jim Cramer today. And last week’s decision to let their first-look deal expire next year was not tied to the fact that Disney might write down as much as $190M from losses tied to The Lone Ranger, which Jerry Bruckheimer produced. “We both have changed over the years,” Bob Iger says. “Jerry decided to spread his wings. … Our needs have changed a bit in terms of our live-action movie business.” In the end, “Jerry provided great value for us.” Iger hit more familiar themes in the interview including his optimism for ESPN and Disney theme parks and the “unlikely” possibility that he’ll make another deal as big as the ones for Marvel and Lucasfilm.

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Bob Iger Backs CBS’ Arguments In Dispute With Time Warner Cable

By | Tuesday August 6, 2013 @ 3:15pm PDT

Even though the Disney CEO says he doesn’t want to weigh into the contract dispute, he left analysts with little doubt about his sympathies. Bob Iger told them in his quarterly earnings call that he feels “strongly about the need for broadcasters to be paid adequately” by pay TV providers. Sure, station owners transmit their signals over the air for free. But “distributors repackage them and sell them”, and with the “compelling” combination of national and local programming — including news — “the stations should be paid accordingly”. The high-profile CBS-Time Warner Cable fight has left millions of cable subscribers unable to watch programming from CBS and related networks including Showtime. “We never like to see battles like this,” Iger says, because it brings “attention to the business that isn’t necessarily helpful.” He doesn’t sense, though, that lawmakers or regulators are “close to jumping into the fray on this one”. Nor is Iger worried that Disney will be hurt if cable operators merge as a way to gain more leverage over programmers and their rising price demands. “This is the most robust era we’ve ever seen from a distribution perspective” with cable, satellite, phone companies and digital streamers led by Netflix. If cable companies combine, it “will have no impact on our business whatsoever…We have the kind of leverage necessary not only to obtain access but to obtain the pricing” he wants.

Related:Read More »

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Bloomberg: Disney Putting The Brakes On Executive Car Allowances, Other Perks

By | Thursday July 18, 2013 @ 4:07am PDT

On the sidelines of the Allen & Co. conference in Sun Valley last week, Walt Disney Company CFO Jay Rasulo said executive car allowances are going the way of the Edsel. “We’re phasing them out,” Rasulo told Bloomberg. The move is part of a larger attempt to curtail some perks at the Mouse. Rasulo wouldn’t be led on specifics, but told Bloomberg he was seeking to modernize operations. “We looked at the way technology is changing our businesses. We’re removing vestigial parts.” A mid-level Disney exec told the news agency that in recent years their monthly car allowance was $900. Some company units have also done away with the half-day Friday policy during the summer. Disney CEO Bob Iger and Rasulo last year ordered an internal review to pinpoint superfluous positions and increase efficiency. In one result, about 150 staffers were laid off at the film studio April.

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Bloomberg: Disney World’s MyMagic+ Digital Wristbands Boost Guest Spending In 1st Trial

By | Friday July 12, 2013 @ 2:49am PDT

Disney‘s MyMagic+ wristbands sparked some controversy when the program was first promoted back in January, but testing at Florida’s Walt Disney World has shown positive results. At the Allen & Co conference in Sun Valley this week, Parks division chairman Thomas Staggs told Bloomberg that 1,000 people recently took place in a trial, which led to increased spending. Staggs offered few details, but said the “MagicBands” showed that guests spent more than the average because they had fun with the technology. The digital wristbands enable park visitors to upload personal information designed to enhance their experience by allowing them to reserve time on rides and in restaurants. The wristbands also act as admission tickets, hotel room keys and credit cards and, notably, allow the parks to track guest interaction and purchasing behavior. Further trials are planned before the bands expand throughout Walt Disney World by the end of the year, Staggs said. When Disney chief Bob Iger first unveiled the initiative, a Massachusetts congressman raised concerns about children’s experiences at the parks being manipulated through the use of their personal information. Iger responded that his suggestions were “ludicrous” and “utterly ill-informed.”

Related: Bob Iger Calls MagicBand Criticism “Ludicrous”

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