Cable Operators

Big Paydays for TV’s Top Leaders

4/25/2011 12:01 AM Eastern

Media moguls continued
to rake in the dough in 2010, with
CBS Corp. CEO Les Moonves being
the latest to reap a double-digit
percentage increase in compensation,
which totaled nearly $58 million
for the year.

According to a proxy statement
filed April 15, Moonves received
$3.5 million in base salary, a $27.5
million bonus (an 83% increase
from his $15 million bonus in the
previous year), $8 million in stock
awards and $14.9 million in option
awards. In total, Moonves earned
$57.7 million, up 33.6% from his $43.2 million haul in 2009.

On Moonves’ watch, CBS stock rose 36% ($5 per share) in
2010, CBS Sports inked a landmark $10.8 billion deal with
Turner Broadcasting System for coverage of the NCAA Division
I Men’s Basketball Championship and the company
reaped huge increases in retransmission-consent revenue
for its broadcast stations.

CABLE-FUELED GAINS

On the cable side, its Showtime Networks premium channel,
CBS College Sports Network (now CBS Sports Network) and
Smithsonian Networks reported a 9.5% increase in revenue
and a 23% rise in operating income before depreciation and
amortization in 2010.

Moonves has also been a big proponent of cash payments
from distributors in return for retransmission consent for its
owned-and-operated CBS television stations.

Moonves has said he expects CBS to tally $250 million in retrans
fees by 2013, and said its 2010 retrans fees
exceeded $100 million by a comfortable margin.

As the economy has begun to recover — the
national unemployment rate in March was at
its lowest level in two years — and cable stocks
have roared back to health (MSO stocks were
up more than 30% and programmer shares
rose more than 25% in 2010), so has CEO compensation.
Among the media chiefs who have
received double-digit increases in compensation
in 2010 include Time Warner Inc. chairman
and CEO Jeff Bewkes (34%); Discovery
Communications CEO David Zaslav; and Viacom
CEO Philippe Dauman (147.8%). Dauman
has so far won the distinction as the highestpaid
CEO in the country, reaping $84.5 million
in total compensation in 2010.

Chris Crawford, executive director and co-owner of
Houston-based compensation consultant Longnecker &
Associates, said while the increases seem out of whack,
they are actually in line with overall compensation trends.
Crawford said that 2010 compensation is dramatically up
from 2008 and 2009 levels across the board for several reasons
— the rebound on Wall Street has led to more lucrative
stock awards for executives and an improving economy has
led companies to exceed their financial and performance targets,
which has led to bonus payouts. Most media CEO compensation
packages are heavily tied to performance metrics.

“I don’t think the media industry is much of an anomaly
from anybody else,” Crawford said. “Outside of financial services,
you’re going to see a lot of companies that are going to
have an increase in 2010 compensation. I don’t think there is
disconnect in media from any other industry.”

OTHERS BUMPED

Moonves wasn’t the only CBS executive
to get a big raise in 2010.

Chief financial officer Joseph Ianiello
nearly doubled his total compensation
to $10.8 million in 2010 from
$5.8 million in 2009; and executive
vice president and general counsel
Louis Briskman got a 12.2% raise to
$8.3 million from $7.4 million in 2009.

Executive chairman Sumner Redstone
received $20.3 million in total
compensation in 2010, up 25.3% from
$16.2 million in 2009. Combined with
the $15 million he received as executive
chairman of Viacom, Redstone
received about $35 million in total
compensation in 2010, up about 6%.

September