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CEO Gets Incentives to Grow Outdoor

2/08/2008 7:00 PM Eastern

Outdoor Channel CEO Roger Werner has negotiated a new employment deal with the hunting and fishing network that could net him more than $5 million annually if he hits specific subscriber- and revenue-growth targets.

The agreement, filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission Feb. 7, bumps his annual base salary from $300,000 in 2007 to $450,000 in 2008. Werner's base salary will be raised again to $500,000 annually, effective Oct. 16.

He's also eligible for a performance bonus of not less than $225,000 in 2008 and $250,000 in 2009.

The real payoff comes if Werner, who joined Outdoor Channel in 2006, successfully negotiates pending carriage deals and manages to significantly grow the channel's subscriber base. He gets a bonus of up to $950,000 if the channel successfully negotiates seven carriage deals at terms favorable to the network.

The network would only specify that one of the deals has been completed — most likely its October agreement with the National Cable Television Cooperative.

Outdoor Channel has about 30 million subscribers. It's been actively trying to boost those numbers, launching a plan in March to reduce license fees paid by operators to carry the channel in an effort to gain more carriage and ad revenue.

On a conference call with analysts Feb. 1 to discuss third-quarter results, Werner said Outdoor is close to deals with several operators.

“Don't be surprised if we announce that we've done some more affiliation deals and renewed our relationships with people like DirecTV or Comcast or Cox [Communications] or other large companies,” Werner said, according to a transcript of the conference call. “Those discussions are underway as I say, and I characterize them as late-stage and, in some cases, very, very late-stage. But to get them papered, to get the ink on the signature page, it could take a week. It could take three months. So we're moving along, but we're feeling good about the progress we're making.”

Werner stands to reap another $1.5 million in bonuses if he signs on 5 million additional subscribers and $2 million if the network adds 10 million additional customers.

He'd get an additional $500,000 for every 1 million subscribers the channel adds above 10 million.

Werner's new deal also includes a cash bonus equal to 5% of any annual increase in advertising revenue compared to the prior year for both 2008 and 2009.

September