Discovery Signs Zaslav To Long-Term Contract

Discovery Communications said it extended its employment contract with president and CEO David Zaslav through the end of the decade.

Zaslav joined Discovery as CEO in January 2007 from NBC. The new deal runs through Dec. 31, 2019 and makes Zaslav a “significant long-term shareholder” in Discovery Communications, the company said. The company added that Zaslav has committed to hold the majority of his equity from stock grants to term, furthering the alignment of shareholder and management interests.

Zaslav received $49.9 million in compensation in 2012, including $25.3 million in stock awards and $15.8 million in option awards on top of a $3 million salary. His 2013 pay has not yet been disclosed.

Under the new contract, Zaslav’s salary will remain at $3 million per year. The target for his bonus will be $6.6 million in 2014. That target will increase by $600,000 a year until 2018. In 2018 and 2019, the target for his annual bonus will be $9 million. The actual amount of Zaslav’s bonus will depend on achieving qualitative and quantitative objectives.

Zaslav will also be getting stock units, stock appreciation grants and be part of a supplemental deferred compensation plan with $1.5 million a year. He also gets perks including a $1,400 monthly car allowance and personal use of the company jet.

"David has done a superb job. He built a strong management team that has expanded the company's reach and relevance, increased its market share domestically and around the world, and created a bigger, stronger portfolio of brands. We look forward to working with David to do more of the same over the next six years," Discovery Director John Malone, chairman of Liberty Media Corporation and Liberty Global, said in a statement.

Discovery became a public company in 2008. Since then, its market capitalization has increased to $30 billion from $6 billion. Under Zaslav, Discovery has launched new networks, including Investigation Discovery and OWN, a joint venture with Oprah Winfrey, and expanded internationally.

"Securing David for the next six years recognizes his value to the enterprise, and provides continuity, strong leadership, and his trademark high energy to Discovery for many years to come," said John Hendricks, founder and chairman of Discovery Communications. 

Jon Lafayette

Jon has been business editor of Broadcasting+Cable since 2010. He focuses on revenue-generating activities, including advertising and distribution, as well as executive intrigue and merger and acquisition activity. Just about any story is fair game, if a dollar sign can make its way into the article. Before B+C, Jon covered the industry for TVWeek, Cable World, Electronic Media, Advertising Age and The New York Post. A native New Yorker, Jon is hiding in plain sight in the suburbs of Chicago.