Discovery CEO Stands to Make $110 Million in 2014 Compensation

Zaslav Was Already One of Media's Highest-Paid Execs

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Discovery Communications CEO David Zaslav stands to make more than $110 million in compensation in 2014, the first year of a new contract that keeps him at the cable-network giant through 2019.

David Zaslav and Oprah Winfrey, whose companies teamed up to start the OWN channel
David Zaslav and Oprah Winfrey, whose companies teamed up to start the OWN channel Credit: George Burns

Including salary of $3 million, $6.6 million in potential bonuses and more than 1 million performance-based restricted stock units, Mr. Zaslav's compensation would reach about $110.7 million this year, based on the value of the shares at yesterday's close. The six-year contract extension lasts until Dec. 31, 2019, according to a statement today.

Mr. Zaslav, whose new contract started yesterday, joined Discovery in 2007 from NBC Universal and helped take the company public the following year. Since then, he's doubled its slate of cable networks and created a joint venture with Oprah Winfrey to start the OWN channel.

The contract will turn Mr. Zaslav into "a significant long-term shareholder in Discovery," the Silver Spring, Md.-based company said. He has committed to holding the majority of his equity from stock grants to term, Discovery said.

He also is slated to receive fewer performance-based restricted stock units after 2014, so future years' compensation won't be as high. Still, Mr. Zaslav's bonus will increase by $600,000 each year until 2018.

'Superb job'
"David has done a superb job," John Malone, a Discovery board member and the chairman of Liberty Media, said in the statement. "He built a strong management team that has expanded the company's reach and relevance, increased its market share domestically and around the world."

Mr. Zaslav, a former attorney, was already one of the highest-paid media executives in the U.S. His compensation was valued at $49.9 million in 2012, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. That made him second only to CBS Corp. CEO Les Moonves, whose compensation was $62.2 million.

Discovery's stock price has increased more than sixfold since Mr. Zaslav took the company public in 2008. He also expanded the company's international operations and completed the acquisition of 12 TV networks across Northern Europe for $1.7 billion.

His new employment agreement will end two weeks before he turns 60.

~ Bloomberg News ~

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