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Media Business Boasts Top Pay for CEOs

Six of the highest paid CEOs in the country come from the media business, according to a study conducted by compensation data firm Equilar and the Associated Press.

David Zaslav, CEO of Discovery Communications, had the highest total compensation, getting $156.1 million for 2014. The bulk of that was a one-time equity grant made when Zaslav signed a new multi-year contract.

CBS CEO Les Moonves was number two on the list, although his pay package of $54.5 million was down from the previous year.

Also on the list were Viacom CEO Philippe Dauman, Walt Disney Co. CEO Bob Iger, Comcast CEO Brian Roberts and Time Warner CEO Jeff Bewkes.

Media stocks have climbed the past five years. An index of media companies in the S&P 500 index has risen 193% compared with a gain of 95% for the broader S&P 500, the AP said.

The AP also quoted business school professors who said media company execs tend to get outsized compensation because of the high-priced talent that drives the business.

"The talent, the actors and directors and writers, they're being paid a lot of money," said Steven Kaplan, a professor of finance at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business. "In industries where the talent makes a lot of money, the CEO makes a lot of money as well."

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.