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Huge disparity between US media CEOs pay and share price performance

MUMBAI: At a time when three out of four adults believe that American CEOs are overpaid, the directors of US media conglomerates CBS, Comcast, Discovery, Disney, Fox, Time Warner, and Viacom continued last year to lavish their chiefs with some of corporate America’s largest salaries running into several millions of dollars— often way out of whack with their company’s performance.

Deadline has published its sixth annual examination of CEO compensation in media and entertainment.

The most egregious example: Viacom’s Philippe Dauman received a 22.2 per cent increase in his compensation, part of a contract renewal, even though his company’s market value declined by 42.5 per cent.

Compare that to Disney where Bob Iger’s take fell by 3.4 per cent although his company was the only one in the group whose stock value increased (+19 per cent including dividends in the fiscal year). Or Time Warner where Jeff Bewkes renewed his contract without extravagant inducements.

The chiefs collectively made $283.8 million, down 28.9 per cent from 2014, company SEC filings show. The median package was $36.2 million, down 18.2 per cent. Only two (Dauman and Comcast’s Brian Roberts) made more in their 2015 fiscal years than they did in 2014.

But bulk of the group’s decline came from one person: The package for Discovery’s David Zaslav fell by 79.3 per cent from the eye-popping $156.1 million he received in 2014 — an unusual jump due to one-time stock options awarded as part of a contract renewal.

Deadline further noted that if one takes him out of the tally, then the 2015 total comes to $251.5 million — up 3.4 per cent vs 2014, and the biggest amount for the group since 2010. The median grows by five per cent to $40.6 million, the highest since 2011.

Deadline has clarified that its objective here isn’t just to tell readers how much people made. It’s to help readers understand how the secretive boards that control Hollywood think, and provide some metrics so you can decide whether their outlays were justified.