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Shaking the Money Tree

Billy Tauzin might consider it chump change, but Jack Valenti's $1.3 million salary makes him the king of media lobbyists. At least paywise. The Louisiana congressman turned down Valenti's post, seduced by the pharmaceutical industry's offer for nearly double the MPAA comp. The rest of Valenti's peers—and most of America—would happily settle for his exalted salary.

Do the math: With earnings well beyond the $1 million mark, Motion Picture Association of America President Jack Valenti and National Cable & Telecommunications Association President Robert Sachs are the most highly paid of 108 media lobbyists.

According to BROADCASTING & CABLE'S second-annual compensation survey of non-profit media organizations, Valenti tops the charts with a compensation of $1,370,211 in 2002, a healthy jump over the $1,218,727 he earned in 2001. Valenti, who says he is ready to call it quits at the MPAA, the group he has headed since 1966, leaves big shoes and a big wallet to fill.

Sachs had the second-highest remuneration in 2002, with earnings of $1,263,082, up substantially from $1,184,310 the year before. Valenti and Sachs held the same rankings in B&C's inaugural survey last year.

Also for the second year in a row, National Association of Broadcasters President Eddie Fritts commanded the third-highest pay package: $905,008 for the year ended March 31, 2002. His previous take was $839,992. Although Fritts is paid less than his cable and motion picture peers, as an organization, the NAB outguns its industry counterparts in revenue. In the year ended March 31, 2002, NAB's income topped $56 million.

Of course, not all lobbyists command seven digits in their paychecks. Longtime media activist Andrew Schwartzman, head of the non-profit Media Access Project law firm, made $122,800 in 2002, and David Honig, executive director of the watchdog Minority Media and Telecommunications Council, has had the same income—$140,000—for three years. When it comes to state broadcast associations, Vermont Executive Director Alan Noyes pulls in a paltry $6,500.

Salaries, in part, may reflect the improving economy. MPAA's revenue rose sharply from 2001 to 2002, increasing more than $4 million to $45,792,601. From 2000 to 2001, the association's revenue had plummeted by just over $4 million.

NCTA's revenue in 2002 was $31,025,510, down slightly from $31,477,799 in 2001. But the association had a steeper decline from 2000 to 2001, when revenue slid by more than $4 million. (This figure reflects an 11-month period, from February 2001 to December 2001, because of an accounting change at NCTA.)

survey measures non-profit, tax-exempt media lobbies, professional organizations, watchdogs and networks
based on
information obtained from Form 990 tax returns. The figures reflect the most recently available data and are mostly for fiscal years ending in 2001 and 2002.

According to documents, NAB revenue was off a whopping $5.6 million from its income of $61,635,513 for the year ended March 31, 2001.

Seven other trade-group executives made between $400,000 and $1 million, down from nine in last year's survey. A few executives draw paychecks from more than one non-profit, such as John Lawson, who made almost $154,000 as president of the Association of Public Television Stations and reaped an additional $125,886 as head of APTS Action, a related lobbying group.

The top breadwinner at a statewide non-profit was Spencer R. Kaitz, president of the California Cable and Telecommunications Association, with compensation totaling $383,400 for the year ended June 30, 2002.

The Radio Advertising Bureau learned from B&C last year that it had failed to file completed tax records for the years 1999-2001. Now the organization says it is caught up with the IRS. The RAB blamed the error on an outside accounting firm.