Pay Bumps for Burke, Rutledge

In a year when executive compensation
has been mirroring the overall
economy’s downward slope, two top cable
executives appear to be bucking the trend
with substantial boosts in their 2009 pay.

Comcast chief operating officer Steve
Burke, who will be taking on additional responsibilities
once its NBC Universal joint
venture passes regulatory muster, saw his
overall compensation rise by 50% in 2009 to
$33.9 million from $22.6 million in the prior
year. Burke received an 11% raise in 2008.

Cablevision Systems, the top performing
MSO for several years running, rewarded
chief operating officer Tom Rutledge by more
than doubling his compensation in 2009 to
$26.1 million from $10.7 million in 2008.
Rutledge took a 22% pay
cut in 2008.

The salary details were disclosed in proxy
statements the companies filed last week.

The increases appear to contrast a downward
trend in CEO compensation. According
to a report in The Wall Street Journal last
month, median CEO compensation was
down 0.9% in 2009, compared to a 3.4% drop
in 2008. The Journal had surveyed 200 public
companies with annual revenue of at least
$4 billion. Cablevision and Comcast had not
been included because they hadn’t yet filed
their proxy statements.

Had they been included, Burke would
have landed in the No. 2 spot among the
most highly compensated executives —
behind Occidental Petroleum CEO Ray Irani’s
$52.2 million package — and Rutledge
would have kicked former No. 2 Disney CEO
Bob Iger (at $20.8 million) down another
peg to take over No. 3.

Miller Tabak media analyst David Joyce
noted the bulk of the compensation was in
the form of stock options that could have accumulated
over several years. Rutledge received
$2.7 million in stock awards in 2009
(compared to $0 in 2008) and Burke’s stock
award more than doubled in 2009 to $10.1
million from $4 million in 2008.

The two also received substantial bonuses.
Rutledge got an $8.5 million bonus in 2009
compared to $0 in 2008, plus $10.5 million
in non-equity incentives (twice what he received
in 2008).

Burke received a $3 million bonus in 2009,
compared to no bonus in the prior year.

Others who got raises at Cablevision —
which reported its sixth consecutive year
of double-digit cash-flow growth in 2009
and saw its stock rise about 50% — chairman
Charles Dolan received $16 million (up
34.3%); CEO James Dolan made $17.1 million
(up 36.2%); and vice chairman Hank Ratner
earned $16.2 million (up 55.2%).

At Comcast, which may have single-handedly
rejuvenated the deal market with the
Dec. 3 announcement of its NBCU joint venture,
chief financial officer Michael Angelakis
received a 49% pay raise to $21.6 million;
and executive vice president David Cohen
received a 10% increase to $9.8 million.
Chairman and CEO Brian Roberts received
one of the smallest raises: 3.8%, to $27.2 million
from $26.2 million in 2008.