Top Execs Get Big Pay for Big Performance

Strong performance translated into big
financial gains for executives at a pair of cable-network
groups in 2010, according to proxy filings with the Securities
and Exchange Commission last week.

Discovery Communications and Scripps Networks Interactive
each filed year-end proxies, with Discovery CEO
David Zaslav nearly quadrupling his annual compensation
to $42.6 million and Scripps Networks president John
Lansing almost tripling his 2009 take to $6.5 million.

Zaslav received $2 million in base salary, $20.3 million
in stock awards, $15.4 million in option awards and $4.4
million in non-equity compensation. In contrast, Zaslav
received $11.7 million in total compensation in 2009. The
Discovery chief signed a new employment deal early in
2010 that expires in 2015, increases his base salary to $3
million in 2011 and creates incentives
that could reap the programming
executive more than $55
million over the life of the contract.

Discovery had another strong
year in 2010 — revenue was up
9% and its stock price rose 36%
to $41.70 from $30.67. The performance
built on gains in 2009
— revenue grew 2% during the
height of the recession and the
stock price doubled to $30.67 from


While Zaslav had a big payday in
2010, not all of Discovery’s top executives
saw pay increases in 2010.
According to the proxy, chief financial
officer Brad Singer, co-founder
John Hendricks and Discovery Networks
International CEO Mark Hollinger
saw decreases in their total
compensation in 2010.

Singer’s total compensation
dipped 29.3% to
$4.1 million from $5.8
million in 2009, primarily
due to lower option
awards. Singer received
$850,003 in opt ion
awards in 2010, compared
to $2.3 million in

The same held true for
Hendricks, who took in $9.5 million in total compensation
in 2010 according to the proxy, or about 45.1% less
than the $17.3 million he earned in 2009. The bulk of the
difference was in option awards — $7.7 million in 2010 vs.
$15.5 million in 2009.

Hollinger’s total compensation declined about 8.2% in
2010 to $5.6 million from
$6.1 million in 2009.

Chief operating officer
Peter Liguori earned
about $4.9 million in
2010, his first year with
Discovery. Liguori joined
Discovery in January
from Fox Networks.

At Scripps, Lansing,
who led SNI’s efforts in
several heated carriage negotiations for flagship networks
Food Network and HGTV last year, received $6.8 million in
total compensation in 2010, a 152% increase from the $2.7
million he received in 2009, according to a proxy statement
fi led April 5. Lansing received a base salary of $750,000 for
the year (up $50,000 from the year before), but the biggest
jump came in stock awards
— $4.1 million in 2010 vs.
$547,062 in 2009.


In 2010, SNI’s stock price rose
about 25%.

Other Scripps Networks
executives received healthy
compensation increases in
2010, including chairman
and CEO Ken Lowe ($8.3
million, an 18.8% increase);
chief financial officer Joe
NeCastro ($6.6 million, a
140% increase); chief legal
officer and corporate secretary
Anatolio Cruz ($2.2
million, a 22% boost) and
executive vice president of
operations and chief technology
officer Mark Hale
($1.6 million, up 20% from
the prior year).