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Question: In the exotic world of executive suite excess, which gaggle of bosses managed to outgun Wall Street bankers in the size of paychecks they took last year?
Answer: Media moguls.
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The CEO of CBS, for example, made off with $43 million in 2009, double his pay of the previous year. Also, Viacom, a sister company of CBS, shelled out $33 million to its chief. Compare these hauls by media honchos to the $19 million taken by the head of Wells Fargo, last year’s top-paid banker. That banker’s pay was even exceeded by Time Warner’s top executive, who took a 10 percent cut last year, yet still pocketed $19.4 million.
Okay, the stock prices and profits of some media giants did perk up a bit last year (even though their revenues went down), but the uptick was not due to any managerial magnificence or marketing magic by those at the top. Rather, the chieftains improved their corporate bottom lines by firing hundreds of journalists and other media creators and cutting back on the quality of their media products. These guys are profiting by squeezing their own companies, a gambit that one industry consultant says “makes no sense” – except for them.
The grab-it-and-go managerial style has also taken hold in the troubled realm of newspaper chieftains. They are shutting down entire news divisions and forcing morale-destroying layoffs and cuts on employees – then rewarding themselves with million-dollar pay hikes. The CEO of the New York Times, for example, took a 26 percent increase last year, while the corporate chairman took a 171 percent boost in pay. Another industry consultant shrugged off such distorted payouts, saying they’re just part of “the whole business model” for today’s media conglomerates.
What business model? Al Capone’s?
“Big Paydays For the Chiefs In the Media,” The New York Times, May 3, 2010.
“Time Inc. Is Expected To Eliminate More Jobs,” October 30, 2009.