June 1, 2020
Variety – What the Media’s Most Powerful Executives Were Paid in 2019
By David Lieberman and Brent Lang
Media chieftains don’t suffer from low self-esteem. Industry titans including Bob Iger, Reed Hastings and Rupert Murdoch probably need big egos to believe they’re entitled to make far more than most CEOs at similarly sized companies — and much more for 12 months of work than an average employee could make in several lifetimes.
It would take about 410 years for a typical employee at AT&T, Comcast, Discovery, Disney, Fox, Lionsgate, Netflix or ViacomCBS to match the $37.6 million median size of the packages paid to each CEO last year, according to their most recent proxies.
But the period of outsize, some might even say gluttonous, compensation may be over — at least for now. The COVID-19 crisis and resulting recession have led to layoffs or furloughs at companies including Comcast, Disney and ViacomCBS, and intensified scrutiny into how their boards reward their leaders.
“Change is coming,” predicts Rosanna Landis Weaver, program manager of shareholder advocacy group As You Sow. “There’s a lot of populist outrage over this, and this level of inequality is destabilizing.”
Some have made a show of shared sacrifice by forgoing their salaries, but not the bonuses and stock awards that account for the bulk of their compensation.
“The message that they’re sending is that ‘We’re all in this together,’” says Robin Ferracone, CEO of Farient Advisors, a performance advisory and strategic compensation firm. “It’s not going to save the companies that much money. But it’s an important step when people are losing their jobs.”