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Charter’s Tom Rutledge Receives $38.8 Million in 2020 Total Compensation

Charter Communications CEO Tom Rutledge
(Image credit: Charter Communications)

Charter Communications chairman and CEO Tom Rutledge received $38.8 million in total compensation in 2020, a period where the company broke records in broadband subscriber growth and its stock price rose 35%, according to the company’s annual proxy statement filed Thursday.

According to the filing, Rutledge’s base salary rose slightly to $2.1 million from $2 million, but he received $30 million in option awards in 2020 after not receiving any in the previous two years. Rutledge signed a new employment agreement in October that will keep him chairman and CEO at least through 2024. Overall, Rutledge’s total compensation was $37.7 million, nearly five times the $8.7 million he received in 2019.

Charter added more than 2 million broadband customers in 2020, a new record fueled by work-at-home orders as a result of the pandemic. In 2020, Charter’s stock price rose about 35% from $485.08 on Dec. 31 2019 to $653.49 on Dec. 31 2020.

Also Read: Charter’s Giffen Good

Chief operating officer John Bickham also received a big windfall in the form of option awards -- $31. 5 million -- in the period, pushing his total compensation for the year to $36.5 million. Bickham, who said in February that he will retire at the end of 2022, received about $5 million in total compensation in 2019. 

Other senior executives that saw big increases in compensation were chief financial officer Christopher Winfrey, who received $11.2 million in total compensation (up from $2.5 million in the prior year), and senior executive VP David Ellen, whose total haul rose from $3.3 million in 2019 to $10.8 million in 2020. Winfrey received $8.1 million in option awards and Ellen received $6.75 million in option awards during the year.

Mike Farrell is senior content producer, finance for Multichannel News/B+C, covering finance, operations and M&A at cable operators and networks across the industry. He joined Multichannel News in September 1998 and has written about major deals and top players in the business ever since. He also writes the On The Money blog, offering deeper dives into a wide variety of topics including, retransmission consent, regional sports networks,and streaming video. In 2015 he won the Jesse H. Neal Award for Best Profile, an in-depth look at the Syfy Network’s Sharknado franchise and its impact on the industry.