Beats Out Rupert Murdoch and Sumner Redstone in ‘Ad Age’ Annual Salary Survey

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NEW YORK ( -- As of a year ago, cable companies were the place to pin your CEO dreams. Comcast Corp. President CEO Brian L. Roberts’ total compensation for 2004 was $33.5 million, which mean among the media companies Advertising Age tracks for its annual salary survey, he was the highest paid CEO.

Comcast Corp. President CEO Brian L. Roberts
Roberts and his rival James O. Robbins, president-CEO of Cox Communications, who was paid $29.4 million, beat out such well-known luminaries as Sumner Redstone, chairman-CEO of Viacom, ($28.3 million) and Rupert Murdoch, the chairman-CEO of News Corp. ($23.6 million). Walt Disney Co. President-CEO Robert Iger made $11.9 million.

But given all the upheaval in the TV delivery market in 2005 and the challenges cable companies are under to beat back competitors from telecom companies and satellite players, it will be an interesting exercise to see if cable salaries will stay at the top of the media heap through next year.

Mel Karmazin, with his move to Sirius Satellite Radio, was paid $14.3 million in 2004.

McGraw tops mags
Out of the publicly traded magazine companies, the highest paid executive by far was Harold McGraw III, chairman-CEO of McGraw-Hill, with $16.7 million. Meredith Corp. Chairman-CEO William Kerr took home $4.41 million, while newcomer Susan Lyne, Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia president-CEO, made $4.29 million. Thomas O. Ryder, who announced recently he will be stepping down from his post as chairman-CEO of Reader’s Digest Association next year, made $4.22 million in 2004.

It seems odd that Knight Ridder has been the subject of shareholder ire given that Chairman-CEO P. Anthony Ridder is on the low end of the salary scale among his fellow newspaper company leaders. His $1.7 million was dwarfed by smaller newspaper chain CEOs like E.W. Scripps President-CEO Kenneth Lowe’s $6.23 million; Gannett Co.’s former President-CEO Douglas H. McCorkindale’s $5.84 million; and Lee Enterprises Chairman-President Mary Junck’s $5.24 million. Tribune Co.’s former Chairman-CEO Dennis J. FitzSimons took home $4.72 million. All of those smaller players beat out New York Times Co. former President-CEO Russell T. Lewis’ $2.35 million, and Dow Jones & Co. Chairman-CEO Peter Kann’s $2.9 million.

Advertising Age surveys the 2004 salaries of 221 executives who lead public companies ranked in Ad Age’s 100 Leading National Advertisers, 100 Leading Media Companies, Agency Report and a set of not-for-profits that serve the marketing industry.

Trade groups
The highest paid head of a media trade group? Yup, it was National Cable and Telecommunications Association 2004 President-CEO Robert Sachs whose total compensation was $1.49 million. (Mr. Sachs left this past March and was replaced by Kyle McSlarrow.)

Out of his trade group brethren, the nearest to Sachs in salary was Jack Valenti, the now-retired chairman of the Motion Pictures Association of America, with $1.47 million. National Association of Broadcasters former president-CEO Edward O. Fritts, made $1.2 million. (David K. Rehr replaces Mr. Fritts this month.) Steve Largent, president-CEO of the Cellular Telecom & Internet Association, was paid $1.13 million. Christopher J. Rohrs, president of the Television Bureau of Advertising, was paid $743,000, while Magazine Publishers of America CEO Nina B. Link made $661,000.

For the purposes of this report, total compensation for 2004 includes salary, bonus and a category called other, which includes realized gains from the sale of stock options, long-term incentive payouts and proxy columns in annual reports listed as ‘other.’ The full listing, including leaders of marketing and advertising companies, will be available Monday, Dec. 5, at QwikFIND aar17p.

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