Discovery CEO Zaslav Paid $156.1 Million After Extended Contract

Discovery CEO David Zaslav
Discovery Communications Inc. Chief Executive Officer David Zaslav. Photographer: Daniel Acker/Bloomberg

Discovery Communications Inc. Chief Executive Officer David Zaslav saw his compensation more than quadruple to $156.1 million last year after agreeing to renew his contract for six years.

The total includes $94.6 million of performance-based restricted stock that will vest over time if Discovery achieves certain goals. Part of the grant was tied to the signing of Zaslav’s employment agreement in January 2014, according to a filing Friday. Zaslav also received $3 million in salary, $50.5 million in stock appreciation rights that will vest over four years and a $6.08 million cash bonus.

Zaslav, who joined Discovery in 2007 from NBCUniversal and helped take the company public the following year, was already one of the highest-paid media executives in the U.S. with a compensation of $33.3 million in 2013. Over the past few years, the industry’s pay packages have outpaced other sectors, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

Discovery, which owns cable-TV channels Discovery, TLC and Animal Planet, counts cable billionaire John Malone among its board members. Revenue jumped 13 percent to $6.27 billion last year, and net income gained 6 percent to $1.14 billion.

The stock slumped 25 percent in 2014, while the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index gained 11 percent. Other media companies such as CBS Corp. and Viacom Inc., which are part of the peer group Discovery uses as benchmark to set its executive compensation, also declined during the year, by 13 percent and 14 percent, respectively.

Under Zaslav, 55, the Silver Spring, Maryland-based company added channels and created a joint venture with Oprah Winfrey to start the OWN channel. His 2014 employment agreement will end two weeks before he turns 60.

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