Entertainment Industry

Category: executive compensation

Sumner Redstone to attend Viacom meeting after all

Sumner Redstone at the Academy Awards

Viacom Executive Chairman Sumner Redstone has decided he's not too busy to attend his media company's annual shareholders meeting after all.

On Friday, just 24 hours after Viacom said Redstone had an "unavoidable conflict" that would prevent his traveling to New York to preside over next week's meeting, the octogenarian apparently had a change of heart.

"Mr. Redstone very much wanted to attend the Viacom annual meeting. He was able to change his commitment and will participate in person at the meeting," Viacom spokesman Carl Folta said late Friday in a statement. 

Folta declined to identify Redstone's now-averted "unavoidable conflict."

Thursday's news of Redstone's planned absence from the shareholders meeting raised questions in the investment community about the aging media mogul's health. The billionaire, who lives in Los Angeles and turns 89 in May, has been limiting his travel in recent years.

Viacom annual meetings typically are sparsely attended affairs, primarily because Redstone owns nearly 80% of the voting stock. But Redstone has not been one to miss the gatherings.

Viacom's widely traded B shares closed Friday at $48.48 a share, down 35 cents. Viacom A shares, which are the preferred voting shares, continue to rise in value above the price of the non-voting shares, in part because some investors anticipate an eventual change in control. Viacom A shares closed Friday at $54.22, down 29 cents.

Redstone, who collected $21 million last year in executive compensation from Viacom, also is the controlling shareholder of CBS.  Last year he attended both the Viacom and CBS annual shareholder meetings.

He appeared with his grandson at the Academy Awards ceremony in Hollywood on Sunday. Redstone also plans to partake in the festivities when he receives a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame this month.

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-- Meg James

Photo: Viacom Executive Chairman Sumner Redstone at the Academy Awards on Sunday in Hollywood. Credit: Paul Buck / European Pressphoto Agency

Redstone to skip Viacom meeting; but will get a Walk of Fame star

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Viacom Executive Chairman Sumner Redstone won't be attending his company's annual shareholders' meeting in New York next week. However, later this month, he will be staking out a spot on Hollywood Boulevard.

Redstone will be at the center of attention on March 30 when he receives his own star on Hollywood's Walk of Fame. He will join the ranks of other past and present media moguls with their names forever emblazoned on the legendary Hollywood stretch including Ted Turner, Michael Eisner, Louis B. Mayer and Darryl Zanuck.

Redstone, the 88-year-old controlling shareholder of both Viacom Inc. and CBS Corp., has been making fewer public appearances in recent years. However, he did attend the 84th Academy Awards last Sunday, an event also staged on Hollywood Boulevard, about 8 miles from his home in the gated enclave of Beverly Park.

But he is not planning to make the cross-country trip to New York to attend next week's shareholders meeting, marking the first time in memory that Redstone will miss Viacom's annual gathering. Redstone's absence will be due to an "unavoidable conflict," Viacom spokesman Carl Folta said Thursday, declining to elaborate on the reason.

Instead, the man who once roared that "Viacom is me" will address shareholders in a videotaped message. Redstone's conflict, according to Folta, was "not health related." 

Even though Redstone won't be there in person, he still will control the show. Redstone holds nearly 80% of Viacom's voting shares, so it is a safe bet that he will cast the votes necessary to retain his seat as executive chairman. In Viacom's most recent fiscal year, Redstone raked in $21 million in executive compensation — about $6 million more than he received in 2010.

Viacom includes such assets as MTV, VH-1, Comedy Central, BET, TV Land and the Hollywood-based movie studio Paramount Pictures.

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Photo: Sumner Redstone, center, arrives at the 84th Academy Awards ceremony in Hollywood on Feb. 26. Credit:  Paul Buck / European Pressphoto Agency

CEO Reed Hastings to earn less than 2 other Netflix execs in 2012

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Netflix Chief Executive Reed Hastings is taking a 33% pay cut after a dismal year for the company, leaving chief content officer Ted Sarandos as the highest paid executive at the company.

The online video and DVD subscription company revealed in a recent Securities and Exchange Commission filing that Hastings' stock option allowance for 2012 will be $1.5 million, half of what he is receiving for 2011. His salary will remain $500,000 for a total package of $2 million. The company did not disclose a reason for the pay cut, but it comes after a series of missteps -- including an unexpected price hike that angered consumers and an aborted attempt to separate the DVD business from Internet streaming -- led 800,000 subscribers to quit and the company's stock price to drop 76% from its high in July.

Hastings said he has slid into "arrogance," and was quoted as saying his company had been "overconfident" and had moved "too fast."

Other top Netflix executives won't see smaller paychecks in 2012, however.

Notably, Sarandos, who negotiates deals for content out of the company's Beverly Hills office, is getting a 22% raise next year, bringing his total compensation to $2.8 million from $2.3 million and making him Netflix's highest paid executive.

Also seeing their pay rise are chief product officer Neil Hunt, who will also make more than Hastings next year, chief marketing officer Leslie Kilgore, and chief financial officer David Wells.

Netflix's top executive compensation paled in comparison with the big media companies that provide its content. Viacom CEO Phillippe Dauman had a 2010 package worth $84.5 million, for instance, while CBS Corp. head Leslie Moonves received nearly $58 million.

Pay cuts for top executives at media companies have been rare in recent years despite the weak economy. A notable exception was Nintendo Chief Executive Satoru Iwata, who took a 50% whack after the company's 3DS portable game console posted disappointing early sales.

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Photo: Netflix Chief Executive Reed Hastings in September. Credit: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg

Netflix Chief Executive Reed Hastings' compensation doubled to $5.5 million

ReedHastingsCanada Netflix Chief Executive Reed Hastings will need a few more zeros on his paycheck if he wants to be considered a real Hollywood mogul.

Hastings' 2010 compensation doubled to $5.5 million in 2010, according to the Los Gatos, Calif., company's proxy statement filed late Wednesday. Last year was a banner year for the company. Its stock price increased 219% to $175.70 and Netflix added 8 million subscribers, bringing its total to 20 million. Revenue jumped 29% to $2.16 billion and net income was up 39% to $161 million.

Nearly $5 million of Hastings' compensation package came from stock options, up from $1.75 million in 2009. His salary was actually cut in half to $519,231 from $1 million the previous year.

Although $5.5 million is nothing to sneeze at, it also pales in comparison to other chief executives at big media companies.

For example, Time Warner Chief Executive Jeff Bewkes, an outspoken critic of Netflix's business model, had a compensation package worth $26.3 million in 2010. Viacom Chief Executive Philippe Dauman had a 2010 package worth $84.5 million. The compensation package of CBS chief Leslie Moonves was valued at nearly $58 million. Discovery Chief Executive David Zaslav's deal was worth almost $43 million. 

The biggest raise among Netflix's senior executives went to the man in charge of acquiring content for its booming online streaming service: Ted Sarandos. The company's chief content officer, who works out of its Beverly Hills office, got a 118% raise, to $2.4 million. His salary of $900,000 was higher than that of any other senior executive, though his stock options were less than those of Hastings, Chief Marketing Officer Leslie Kilgore and former Chief Financial Officer Barry McCarthy.

-- Ben Fritz

Photo: Reed Hastings at Netflix's Canada launch in September. Credit: Mike Cassese / Reuters.

Discovery's David Zaslav awarded $42.6 million in compensation in 2010

David Zaslav, chief executive of the Maryland-based Discovery Communications Inc., was awarded a compensation package valued at $42.6 million in 2010 -- more than triple his compensation for the previous year.

That's a lot of TLC.

Discovery owns such channels as Discovery, TLC, Animal Planet, Planet Green, Discovery Fit and Health as well as 50% of the Oprah Winfrey Network. Zaslav, a former high-level NBCUniversal executive, took the helm at Discovery in January 2007, a year before the company went public.  Its shares have increased by nearly 20% this year, closing Monday at $40.48. 

Zaslav was paid $2 million in salary. He received stock awards of $20.3 million and options that are currently valued at $15.4 million. The company also provided $4.4 million in non-equity incentives, plus other compensation, including travel and security expenses. Zaslav's total compensation for 2009 was $11.7 million.

The information was contained in a filing Monday to the Securities and Exchange Commission. 

Discovery's founder and chairman, John S. Hendricks, accepted a package valued at $9.5 million for 2010 -- a substantial reduction from his $17.3-million package, boosted by stock options, during the previous year. 

Mark G. Hollinger, chief executive of Discovery Networks International, received $5.6 million in 2010, and Peter Liguori, the company's chief operating officer, collected $4.9 million in salary, bonus, stock and options. Chief Financial Officer Bradley E. Singer's compensation was valued at $4 million.  

-- Meg James

 

Steve Burke once again is Comcast's most highly compensated man

For the second straight year, Steve Burke received a richer compensation package than that of his boss, Comcast Chief Executive Brian L. Roberts. 

Burke, who in January became chief executive of the Comcast-controlled media giant NBCUniversal,  was awarded a compensation package in 2010 valued at $34.74 million.  That included his $2.24-million base salary, a $3-million signing bonus (the second installment after renewing his contract in 2009), and nearly $15 million in stock and option awards. Steveburkearmscrossed

Roberts collected a total package for 2010 valued at $31.05 million. That included his base salary of $2.8 million, $11 million in stock and option awards and $10.9 million in nonequity incentives. Roberts did not receive a bonus. 

The salary information was contained in the Philadelphia-based cable giant's annual proxy, which it filed Friday morning with the Securities and Exchange Commission.   

In 2009, Burke received a $33.98-million package, which was boosted by the first installment of his signing bonus. The award was calculated, in part, to reflect Burke's increasing responsibilities overseeing Comcast's interest in NBCUniversal.  He spent most of last year learning NBCUniversal's operations and putting together his new executive team.

Roberts, meanwhile, received $27.24 million in compensation in 2009. 

Burke also spent more time on the corporate jet than Roberts. Burke's travel time amounted to $386,752, which the company paid, while Comcast spent $195,767 to fly Roberts around.   

Michael J. Angelakis, the financial architect of the NBCUniversal deal and Comcast's chief financial officer, received a package valued at $22.9 million for 2010 -- a slight increase from his $21.55 package in 2009. 

Comcast's Executive Vice President David L. Cohen was bestowed a package valued at $12.69 million, an increase over his $9.83-million package in 2009. Comcast general counsel Arthur R. Block received $4.23 million for 2010, down from his $6.15-million package in 2009.

-- Meg James

Photo of Steve Burke / Credit: Comcast Corp.

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