CBS Corp. Chief Executive Leslie Moonves remains the king of media compensation.
The 64-year-old television executive and Beverly Hills resident was awarded a $66.9-million compensation package last year, according to a Securities and Exchange Commission filing on Friday.
That was up nearly 8% from the $62.2-million package he got in 2012, a year that also kept Moonves in a rarefied group of the nation's most handsomely compensated corporate executives. In 2011, Moonves’ compensation was nearly $70 million.
Moonves' boss, 90-year-old Sumner Redstone, collected $57 million in compensation last year. That is almost double the $31.3 million that Redstone, who is CBS' chairman and controls nearly 80% of the company's voting stock, collected from CBS in 2012. Redstone also received $36 million in his role as executive chairman of Viacom Inc., so his total compensation from the two companies was $93 million.
The bulk of Redstone's compensation came in the form of changes to the value of his pension. He also received a $10-million bonus and nearly $1.8 million in salary. In 2007, Redstone took approximately $10 million in his deferred compensation and exchanged it for CBS stock options. For several years, Redstone's options were underwater, but he was able to cash them out last year as CBS' stock value soared.
Moonves was paid $3.5 million in salary and received a $28.5-million bonus. He also got stock awards valued at $26.5 million, plus $5.8 million in stock options.
“Mr. Moonves’ 7.7% increase in total compensation occurred during a year when the company’s total share return was up 69%," a CBS spokesman said, adding that "CBS' share appreciation was not only the highest among major media companies, it was near the top of the entire S&P 500." The company went on to say that 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" and that "Mr. Moonves’ compensation is reflective of his continued strong leadership.”
The run-up in CBS stock came in part because investors were feeling more confident that traditional media outlets would withstand, and perhaps even find ways to profit from, the disruptive force of technology.
The network, which has some of the most popular shows on television, also prevailed during last summer’s high-profile monthlong dispute with Time Warner Cable Inc. over fees paid to carry the broadcast signal of local CBS stations including KCBS-TV Channel 2 and KCAL-TV Channel 9 in Los Angeles.CBS came away from the fight with the higher fees that it was seeking.
Moonves and his team also created a successful business model for risky scripted summer programming. Last year, CBS put together a financing package for a high-profile show based on a Stephen King novel, “Under the Dome,” which was executive produced by Steven Spielberg. Fees paid by Amazon.com Inc. and foreign broadcasters more than covered the cost of production, making the big-budget series profitable before it even aired. CBS plans a second season of “Under the Dome” this summer, and Amazon has once again signed on to the project.
And this week saw Moonves orchestrate a smooth transition at CBS late night by naming the well-regarded Comedy Central comedian Stephen Colbert to replace David Letterman as host of "Late Show." Letterman announced last week that he would retire in 2015.
Still, Moonves manages a company that is substantially smaller than its peers, such as Walt Disney Co. and cable giant Comcast Corp., which owns NBCUniversal. In contrast, Disney chief Bob Iger received a package valued at $34.3 million last year.
CBS generated $15.3 billion in revenue last year, compared with Disney's $46 billion.
CBS shares closed Friday at $58.68 a share, down $1.30.
Moonves recently bought the Malibu beach house of Microsoft founder Paul Allen. The New York Post reported Friday that Moonves paid $28 million for Allen’s home along Carbon Beach, an enclave known for its concentration of billionaires, several of whom have ties to the entertainment industry.
Twitter: @MegJamesLATCopyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun