Rupert Murdoch's compensation swells to $33.3 million in 2011
News Corp. Chief Executive Rupert Murdoch continues to be one of the most richly compensated executives in America -- collecting $33.3 million for fiscal year 2011.
The 80-year-old media mogul's salary and stock package soared 46% over 2010 because of the addition of a $12.5-million bonus.
The company's top executives have been struggling to contain widespread damage from the British phone hacking scandal. The crisis exploded in July with revelations that reporters for Murdoch's now-defunct News of the World tabloid in London eavesdropped on cellphone messages of royal family members, celebrities, sports figures, crime victims and fallen soldiers.
Rupert Murdoch and his son James Murdoch, who runs the company's European operations, are expected to be called before a high court later this year to account for the scandal.
Rupert Murdoch qualified for the full amount of his target bonus in 2011 because of his leadership "through the recent economic downturn, positioning the company for long-term growth and ongoing strategic development," according to the News Corp. proxy which was filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission on Friday morning. The company's fiscal year ended June 30.
In 2010, Murdoch collected $22.7 million. Each year he receives an $8.1-million base salary, an amount which has long raised the eyebrows of corporate governance experts because it is not linked to the company's financial performance. Murdoch also was paid $8.5 million in stock awards.
His second-in-command, Chief Operating Officer Chase Carey, received $30.2 million in fiscal 2011. Carey's compensation included a $4-million base salary, a $10-million bonus and $15.2 million in stock awards.
James Murdoch, 38, who has been under increasing pressure for his handling of the British phone hacking crisis, was paid $17.9 million. He received $3 million in salary, $8.3 million in stock awards and a $6-million bonus.
James Murdoch's compensation soared 74% over 2010 when he received $10.3 million. He was elevated to the No. 3 position in the company in late March -- three months before the phone hacking scandal exploded into front page news in Europe, Australia and the U.S.
James Murdoch is expected to be called back before a committee of the British Parliament to further explain his role in the scandal. After he answered questions this summer, two former associates challenged his account of when he first learned of the widespread nature of the illegal activities at the News of the World.
James Murdoch "played an important role during fiscal 2011 in developing the company's key businesses and investments in Europe, Asia and the Middle East," the filing said. He also "successfully transitioned into his new role as deputy chief operating officer ... expanding his responsibilities."
Roger Ailes, chairman of the popular Fox News Channel, received $15.6 million in compensation. That included a $5-million base salary, a $1.5-million bonus, $8 million in non-equity incentive compensation and nearly $282,000 for corporate jet privileges, a car and driver, and personal security.
Chief Financial Officer David F. DeVoe's compensation package topped $18.2 million -- more than double the $7.1 million he received in 2010. DeVoe's compensation jumped because of the addition of a $5-million bonus and $9.5 million in stock awards.
News Corp. separately said that it was nominating James W. Breyer, a venture capitalist, to serve on the company's board of directors. Two directors are stepping down -- Kenneth E. Cowley and Thomas J. Perkins. Five years ago, Perkins resigned from the Hewlett Packard Co. board after that company had hired an investigator to obtain his phone records.
News Corp. did not say why Perkins or Cowley, both longtime directors, were exiting after the company's annual meeting in October.
News Corp. had planned to nominate Murdoch's 43-year-old daughter, Elisabeth Murdoch, to the board. However, in August she delayed her nomination in the wake of the company's various controversies, including shareholder lawsuits filed after News Corp. paid $675 million to buy her London-based TV production company Shine Group. Of that amount, Elisabeth Murdoch received $214 million.
In a departure, News Corp. said it would hold its annual meeting with shareholders Oct. 21 at the Fox lot in Los Angeles. News Corp. typically holds its annual meeting in October near the company's headquarters in New York.
-- Meg James
Photo: Rupert Murdoch. Credit: Ben Gurr / Reuters