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The top six media execs raked in a combined quarter-BILLION in compensation last year

By Published on .

Variety's 2018 'Money Issue.'
Variety's 2018 'Money Issue.' Credit: Variety

Variety's just-released Money issue carries the coverline "MEDIA MOOLAH," and then, in the story anchoring the package, asks: "Do Media Chiefs Deserve the Lavish Pay Packages They Rake in?"

The obvious answer to that question is: Sorry, it doesn't matter what you think! As Variety's Brent Lang and David Lieberman write,

There's never been a richer time to wear the crown at the media conglomerates that churn out the world's most popular television shows and movies. CBS' Les Moonves, Discovery's David Zaslav and Time Warner's Jeff Bewkes each took home salary and compensation packages in 2017 that dwarfed those of Silicon Valley pashas such as Apple's Tim Cook ($12.8 million) or Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg ($8.9 million), despite the fact that Cook's and Zuckerberg's companies boast far greater market share and cultural cachet.

The six highest-paid media execs: Moonves ($69.3 million), Bewkes ($49.0 million), Zaslav ($42.2 million), Bob Iger of Disney ($36.3 million), Jon Feltheimer of Lionsgate ($35.3 million) and Brian Roberts of Comcast ($32.5 million). In a separate piece titled "Breaking Down the Salaries of Media's Most Powerful Executives," Variety dives into the particulars of those lavish pay packages.

Spoiler: Feltheimer may not be the highest paid, but in one way he's the star of this list, given that he saw the most dramatic bump up (+223%) in compensation. As Lang and Lieberman write,

Feltheimer has been richly rewarded for his efforts, enjoying a massive raise in total compensation for 2017 as part of his 2016 contract, which included five years of frontloaded options. He brought home $35.3 million in 2017, roughly $34 million of which came in the form of bonuses and equity awards. ... The Lionsgate chief collected an extra $5 million bonus for buying Starz, and and his upcoming 2018 tally will include a special $3 million bonus for selling Epix.

See also: "Leonardo DiCaprio, Jennifer Lawrence and Other Star Salaries Revealed," by Lang and his Variety colleague Justin Kroll.

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