Media Moguls With Pay NOT Out-Of-Whack: EXCLUSIVE DEADLINE LIST

Media CEO SalariesA few weeks ago I listed the media company CEOs whose pay is way out of whack with other execs in the same company. But if you think that all media chiefs receive such special treatment, then you also need to look at this list: Here are the CEOs whose 2011 compensation packages were more in line with their colleagues. They were below the threshold that makes corporate governance experts worried — typically when the top dog is paid more than 3 times the median for the other executives whose pay must be listed in the proxy statement sent to shareholders and the SEC. The tallies usually include the top 5 execs. As my previous posts explained, a growing body of research (including this study, this one, and this one) shows that companies with out-of-whack pay over time often suffer from problems including groupthink that can result in bad decisionmaking and a low stock price.

On the list below you’ll find CEOs whose pay doesn’t raise a red flag on that one criterion. But let’s be clear: We aren’t saying that they are fairly or unfairly paid. Indeed, many governance experts have criticized pay packages for some of the people here — including Comcast’s Brian Roberts, News Corp’s Rupert Murdoch, and Netflix’ Reed Hastings. The numbers simply show that the boards of directors seem to recognize that multiple people deserve the credit for the company’s performance. Read More »

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Big Media Moguls With Out-Of-Whack Compensation: EXCLUSIVE DEADLINE LIST

Media CEO CompensationEXCLUSIVE: Here’s information you need to know if you’re a Big Media investor, or simply want to understand how power works in this star-obsessed industry. This is Deadline’s second annual list of CEOs whose pay is most out of whack — meaning that the company board pays him or her far more than other top execs. The metric can tell you a lot about the dynamics of power at a company. Corporate governance watchdogs say that it’s a red flag when directors pay the CEO more than three times the median compensation for other leaders named in the annual proxy statements filed at the SEC. By that measure, 18 out of 30 media companies that I tracked and that have filed 2011 data fail the test — in many cases miserably.

Related: Media Moguls With Out-Of-Whack Pay Compensation — 2010 Edition

What does it mean when there’s a gross imbalance? When it persists over time, then it could indicate that directors are in the chief executive’s pocket and don’t ask tough questions. But it’s still worrisome even if they honestly believe the top dog has skills that can’t be easily replaced. Talented up-and-comers usually split from companies where the CEO is treated as a demigod. Researchers also find that at companies with lop-sided pay, people are more likely to give the chief all the credit when things go well, and find others to scapegoat when they don’t. Sooner or later, the blend of unchecked power and groupthink damage the company’s performance — and the stock price. Read More »

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EXCLUSIVE DEADLINE LIST: Media Moguls With Out-Of-Whack Pay Compensation

EXCLUSIVE: This is exactly the kind of information that shareholders of Big Media need to know but rarely see. It’s considered a red flag when any public company pays one of its bigwigs – usually the CEO – three times more than the average for the four other top executives which the SEC requires them to list. So I’ve taken proxy statements and done the computations and discovered that at least 16 of 35 companies failed that test. Often miserably. Nearly half of the media company compensation packages disclosed so far for 2010 show a startling degree of hero-worship as boards of directors pay their top dogs sums that far exceed what the pay was for other top execs in the company.

Stock grants accounted for big chunks of the compensation for those who top this list, including Discovery Communications CEO David Zaslav, Viacom CEO Philippe Dauman, DirecTV CEO Michael White, Nielsen CEO David Calhoun, and CBS chief Les Moonves. Radio station owner Entercom was off the charts: CEO David Field’s $9.1 million compensation was modest by media company standards but still 25.4 times bigger than average for the company’s other four executives. It includes $7.9 million from stock grants that only pay off if Entercom shares rise to hit certain target prices.

Still, corporate governance experts who focus on what’s often called “CEO centrality” say that an out-of-whack pay package is bad news for shareholders. It indicates that the board of directors may be in the pocket of a CEO – or believes he or she has near super-human power to help the company succeed.  In either case, the board is likely to give the CEO all the credit when things go well, and blame others when they go badly. Research shows that usually hurts the stock price over time.

I’ll track this and other measures of lop-sided pay as other media companies release information for 2010. But there are 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 probably won’t know how much privately held Hearst pays CEO Frank Bennack, or how much Japan’s Sony pays CEO Howard Stringer. It also means that 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 was a relatively small fish last year at parent company General Electric. 

To make comparisons in our list here as fair as possible, we looked at the compensation for the five most highly paid employees for 2010. Sometimes companies report the pay for more than five people — for example, when a top executive is replaced during the year a corporation will include the incoming and outgoing person’s compensation. And the pay data given the SEC can spike in a year when an executive cashes in stock or collects deferred compensation. So here’s how the companies stack up, with the top paid executive’s 2010 reported compensation and comparison to the average (median) pay for the four other highest-paid honchos:

1. Entercom: David Field. The son of company founder Joseph Field became CEO in 2002, about 15 years after leaving his job as an investment banker at Goldman Sachs. Field made $9.1 million last year – the total of his $791,723 salary, $444,308 bonus, $7.9 million in stock, and $28,000 in other perks including medical insurance premiums. That’s a 348% raise in a year when company shares appreciated 53.2%. Though considered a strong operating executive, his salary stands out because it’s 25.4 times higher than the $358,692 average for the four other top executives listed in Entercom’s proxy statement. Field’s salary and the $3.9 million paid to CFO Stephen Fisher accounted for 93% of the $14 million that Entercom paid to its top five executives. Read More »

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Moonves Scores $57.7M CBS 2010 Payday

BREAKING NEWS… CBS Corp paid its chief Les Moonves a compensation package worth $57.7 million in 2010, a 34% raise over 2009, the company reported Friday. That made him Big Media’s second-highest-paid CEO — trailing only Viacom CEO Philippe … Read More »

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Add Steve Burke And Brian Roberts To List Of CEOs Getting Raises

By | Friday April 1, 2011 @ 11:40am PDT

OK, so he only recently became president and chief executive of Comcast’s NBCUniversal, but still, Steve Burke and his boss Brian Roberts have joined the likes of Time Warner’s Jeffrey Bewkes, Disney’s Bob Iger and Viacom’s Philippe Dauman on the … Read More »

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Time Warner Paid Chairman & CEO Jeffrey Bewkes $26 Million In 2010

By | Tuesday March 29, 2011 @ 11:27pm PDT

A regulatory filing today revealed that Time Warner chairman and CEO Jeffrey Bewkes received compensation worth a total of $26.3 million last year, 34% more than he made in 2009. That includes a $14.4 million bonus, partly owning to TW’s revenue rising 6% in 2010, the company said, its highest growth rate … Read More »

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