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Top Comcast executives take a pay cut in 2011

BrianRobertsComcastCEO

Comcast Corp.’s highest-paid executives — Chief Executive Brian Roberts and NBCUniversal Chief Executive Steve Burke — experienced compensation deflation last year.

Roberts’ pay package shrank 13.3% in 2011 to $26.9 million. That included a performance-based cash bonus of $5.5 million for the 52-year-old executive.

Meanwhile, Burke’s compensation dropped a whopping 32% to $23.7 million, which included a performance bonus of $6.7 million. The 53-year-old executive’s amount fell dramatically in 2011 as it was the first time in three years that he did not collect a signing bonus.

Burke, who took over management of NBCUniversal last year when Comcast acquired controlling interest in the company, received bonuses of about $10 million in both 2009 and 2010 for extending his contract.

The compensation, disclosed Friday in a proxy filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission, put the managers of the Philadelphia-based cable and entertainment giant in the middle rungs of corporate pay across big media conglomerates.

By comparison, CBS Corp. Chief Executive Leslie Moonves received a package valued at $69.9 million last year, Discovery Communications Chief Executive David Zaslav received $52.4 million; Viacom Chief Executive Philippe Dauman captured $43 million, Walt Disney Co. Chief Executive Robert Iger collected $31.4 million, and Time Warner Inc. Chief Executive Jeffrey Bewkes got $25.9 million. SteveBurkeNBCUniversalChief

Three years ago, Comcast’s top executives agreed to a four-year freeze in their base salary. Roberts’ base salary was $2.8 million; Burke’s was $2.24 million.

The top Comcast executives could have received fatter packages last year. The company achieved substantial growth in revenue and free cash flow, but its top executives elected to bring their performance base bonus calculations more in line with how their underlings are paid — and the Comcast board's compensation committee agreed.

In its proxy, Comcast said its operating management’s “cash bonuses are based primarily on business unit operating metrics rather than consolidated financial performance.”

Chief Financial Officer Michael J. Angelakis last year received a total package of $21.9 million, which was a 4% decline from his 2010 compensation. In contrast, Executive Vice President David L. Cohen accepted more stock and other bonuses which boosted his take 19% to $15.1 million.

Comcast Cable Communications Chief Executive Neil Smit collected $18.5 million in 2011, including a $3-million cash performance bonus. This was the first time that Comcast was required to disclose Smit’s earnings. Smit joined Comcast two years ago but he did not become a top corporate officer until last year when he was named chief executive officer of Comcast Cable.

And Ralph J. Roberts, the 92-year-old co-founder of the cable company, collected his customary $1-a-year salary.

RELATED:

Netflix Chief Reed Hastings got 68% raise in 2011; pay cut for 2012

CBS Chief Leslie Moonves collected nearly $70 million last year

David Zaslav is Discovery's $52-million man

— Meg James

Top photo: Comcast Chief Executive Brian Roberts in 2007. Credit: George Widman / Associated Press.  Bottom right: NBCUniversal Chief Executive Steve Burke in 2010. Credit: Nati Harnik / Associated Press.

 
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