David Zaslav saw his total compensation package last year jump by more than $10 million to $49.7 million in 2023 — with Warner Bros. Discovery awarding him a base salary of $3 million, plus $23 million in stock awards, and non-equity incentive plan compensation (a cash bonus) of $22 million.

It’s the second rather princely CEO package in as many days in an industry known for them as Netflix yesterday unveiled a similarly sized package co-CEO Ted Sarandos.

Zaslav, however, has for years been the poster child of high CEO pay, with a hard to swallow 2021 package of nearly $247 million, swelled by $203 million worth of option awards. That number — and the others — were plastered on posters last spring as the writers guild’ labor talks got heated. CEO pay remained a rallying cry. It might again with a new set of labor talks underway and an overall contraction in the industry that’s causing pain above and below the line.

Annual pay for a company’s top five highest-paid executives is listed in the annual proxy statement filed with the SEC — with a look behind he numbers presented by the Compensation Committee of the Board of Directors.

Among the other execs listed: JB Perrette, head of global streaming and games, saw a package worth $20 million for 2023; chief revenue and strategy officer Bruce Campbell was at $18.3 million; CFO Gunnar Wiedenfels, $17 million; and Gerhard Zeiler, president of International, $13.3 million.

Shareholders vote on pay (a say-on-pay vote) at the annual meeting, which WBD has set for June 3. The tallies are not binding but companies do acknowledge them. WBD”s Committee said in the proxy today that it “took note of the significant percentage of stockholders who cast their advisory vote against our executive compensation program at the 2023 Annual Meeting. Following the 2023 Annual Meeting, we engaged in stockholder outreach to discuss our compensation program and philosophies … and took additional steps to further enhance our program.” Shareholders will have a chance to respond in June.


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