While technology executives are grabbing headlines and wealth with lucrative initial public offerings, media bosses are outpacing them with outsized pay packages.
CBS Corp. paid Chief Executive Officer Leslie Moonves $66.9 million in 2013 to close the gap on Oracle Corp.’s Larry Ellison, the top-earner with $78.4 million. Moonves’s compensation brought his three-year total to almost $200 million, while his chairman, Sumner Redstone, got $109 million over the same period, according to a regulatory filing April 11.
The CBS packages are among the highest reported so far for 2013 by Standard & Poor’s 500 Index companies, a sign that the media industry continues to lavish on its leaders, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Corporate boards are driving up compensation by offering pay that at least matches the average of their peers. CBS and Viacom Inc., also chaired by Redstone, both cited retention as a reason for the pay escalation.
“What one CEO at a media company gets is based on what other media executives get, even if they’re at much larger or very different companies, and that keeps driving pay up,” said Charles Elson, director of the John L. Weinberg Center of Corporate Governance at the University of Delaware and a professor of law there.
CBS, the most-watched TV network in the U.S., said it looked at pay scales at competitors including Time Warner Inc. and Walt Disney Co. as well as companies where it “may lose executive talent” such as Amazon.com Inc. and Cisco Systems Inc.
The CBS board also decided in February to increase Moonves’s grants of restricted stock by $1.5 million per year to $11 million, which will likely boost his 2014 compensation.
“This is the fifth consecutive year that the company’s performance significantly exceeded the S&P 500, including a period during which CBS stock appreciated by more than 20 times,” Dana McClintock, a spokesman, said in an e-mail.
Among the 15 companies that make up the S&P 500 Media Index, CBS was the top-performing stock last year with a gain of 68 percent. The New York-based company also led over the past three years by more than tripling.
As of April 12, Viacom CEO Philippe Dauman was second in the media industry with a total pay at $37.2 million.