Viacom executives again among America's highest paid
Billionaire Sumner Redstone got a 39% boost in compensation last year in his role as executive chairman of Viacom Inc. The 88-year-old media mogul and his top two lieutenants together collected compensation packages in 2011 totaling nearly $100 million.
Viacom Chief Executive Philippe Dauman was awarded $43 million in salary, stock and other benefits, according to the company's proxy filed late Friday with the Securities & Exchange Commission. While still sizable, Dauman's compensation was considerably less (a 49% decrease) than in the previous year when he earned the distinction of being the highest-paid executive in corporate America with a package totaling $84.5 million.
Viacom's second in command, Chief Operating Officer Thomas Dooley, collected $34 million -- an amount that exceeds the pay package of Robert Iger, chief executive of the much larger Walt Disney Co. Iger received a total package of $33.4 million in 2011.
Executives of Viacom, which owns MTV, Nickelodeon, Comedy Central and Paramount Pictures, have long been among the highest paid in the media industry. The compensation awarded to Dauman and Dooley spiked in 2010 when the two executives signed new employment agreements and received generous one-time stock awards. Dooley's 2010 package was $64.7 million.
Redstone was awarded $21 million in 2011. That was nearly $6 million more than in the previous year when his Viacom compensation was $15 million. Viacom included 12 months in the compensation calculation last year, whereas 2010 was based on a nine-month period.
"Those are big numbers," said corporate governance expert Charles Elson. "Viacom seems to be paying their executives entrepreneurial returns rather than managerial wages to run an established company with long-term assets. There seems to be a disconnect there."
Viacom defended the compensation.
"Almost 90% of our senior executive compensation is performance or equity based, which aligns their interests with those of our stockholders," Viacom said in a statement. "Their 2011 compensation reflects achievement in outstanding operational results, including double-digit growth in operating income and adjusted net earnings and a significant outperformance of the S&P 500."
Viacom's common stock increased nearly 9% last year.
-- Meg James
Photo: Viacom Chief Executive Philippe Dauman and Chairman Sumner Redstone in Beverly Hills in 2007. Credit: Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times