David D. Smith, executive chairman of Sinclair Broadcast Group, earned $6.64 million last year, an increase of nearly 28 percent over his 2016 compensation, the Hunt Valley-based broadcaster reported Thursday.
Smith earned a base salary of $1.3 million, $5.3 million in stock options and the rest in non-stock incentives and other compensation, Sinclair said in its annual proxy filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. That compared with a 2016 package that included a $1 million base salary and $4 million in stock options.
Sinclair earnings for 2017 more than doubled 2016's results with a profit of $594 million, or $5.72 a share. It made just under $251 million, or $2.60 a share, the year before.
The increase for 2017 included a $272 million tax benefit as a result of federal tax reform — which lowered the corporate tax rate from 35 percent to 21 percent — and a $225 million gain for vacating spectrum in some markets as part of a government auction to free up spectrum for wireless use.
Sinclair is awaiting regulatory approval of a controversial bid to acquire Tribune Media Co. for $3.9 billion, which will cement its spot as the nation's largest owner of TV stations. On Tuesday, the company announced plans to sell 23 television stations after the merger is completed as part of efforts to win approval from the Federal Communications Commission and antitrust officials.
Sinclair also reported that Chris Ripley, its president and CEO, earned $1.84 million in compensation last year, down slightly from $1.9 million in 2016. Ripley's salary increased to $1.25 million from $782,225, but his bonus fell by $200,000 to $400,000 and he received no stock option awards.