Hollywood Suffering? Why Are Their Execs Making More Than Pretty Much Everyone Else?

from the cost-cutting dept

We keep hearing the MPAA and others talk about how much Hollywood is suffering from piracy and how they can’t fund new movies and how they’re having to lay people off. And then there’s this, suggesting something else may be going on:

Consider: the top 20 companies in the United States ranked by market capitalization include no media companies. But according to figures assembled for The New York Times by Equilar, which compiles data on executive compensation, media companies employ seven of the top 20 highest paid chief executives.

The names are familiar and the numbers are large: Leslie Moonves of CBS ($60,253,647), David M. Zaslav of Discovery Communications ($49,932,867), Robert A. Iger of Walt Disney ($37,103,208), Philippe P. Dauman of Viacom ($33,396,104), Jeffrey L. Bewkes of Time Warner ($25,670,263), Brian L. Roberts of Comcast ($25,087,379), and Rupert Murdoch of News Corporation ($22,418,292).

Basically, the study showed that media companies might not be as big as companies in other industries, but they pay their execs way more. Basically, the top execs in the media business make much more than comparable execs in other industries, even if the companies those execs work for are doing much better:

The data indicates that average pay of the 10 highest paid chief executives for media companies was about $30 million, more than the captains of technology or finance and other industries, who average $6 million to $14 million less.

A few years ago, a friend who worked in the movie industry told me that the industry changed completely when the top executives started thinking that they were the stars. Suddenly, the focus shifted from making good entertainment to making sure they were the highest paid people around, and making sure that everyone knew it. I thought it was just a random comment at the time, but the data suggests that there’s at least something to the idea that media execs have way outsized salaries.

Either way, though, it does seem somewhat ridiculous to see any of the folks on the list above complaining that their business is in trouble when they’re pulling down salaries like that.

Filed Under: ,
Companies: cbs, comcast, disney, news corp, time warner, viacom

Rate this comment as insightful
Rate this comment as funny
You have rated this comment as insightful
You have rated this comment as funny
Flag this comment as abusive/trolling/spam
You have flagged this comment
The first word has already been claimed
The last word has already been claimed
Insightful Lightbulb icon Funny Laughing icon Abusive/trolling/spam Flag icon Insightful badge Lightbulb icon Funny badge Laughing icon Comments icon

Comments on “Hollywood Suffering? Why Are Their Execs Making More Than Pretty Much Everyone Else?”

Subscribe: RSS Leave a comment
Jay (profile) says:

Re: Their standards... TF2 style

Piracy’s a good job, mate…

Challenging work, plenty of computer hours…

And at the end of the day, someone’s going to want someone jailed.

ICE raids house

Oh my…

Feelings? Feelings are for men that bludgeon their wives to death. Professionals have standards.

For example… Be efficient. Be polite…

Have a plan to screw everyone you meet.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

The power of headhunters and their mantras:

“Structurally you have to pay “the man” 3 to 5 % of the companys total turnover. Anyone earning less are just not competitive in this world where good leadership is extremely rare…”
“Your company is going down? Well, you didn’t find the right man for the job so now we have to find him and pay him what he wants!”
“Normal salary? Hah, stock options, bonuses, gifts and special perks are far more cost-efficient.”
“The only way to get the right person is to cover all bases:
Put him on a timed deal:
– He gets fired? Golden parachute.
– He walks? A bit less compensation (we might find him another match to compensate).
– He is running the company into bankrupcy? Cover his ass as much as possible.
– He runs the term out and does well? Continue with current contract.
– He runs the term out and doesn’t do well? Improve compensation to improve motivation or hire someone more expensive.”

harbingerofdoom (profile) says:

Re: Re: That's where the smart money is...

decimated- latin in its origin meaning removal of a tenth.

the particular group would be devided into tenths and each group would use some method to select which group would be executed. it didnt matter if everyone in that group was culpable or to what degree their responsibility their parts were. if they were selected the entire group was executed (while those responsible may have also gone free, but usually not) as a warning to the rest.

given the ‘sue your customers into the ground’ attitude media seems to have these days, decimated may very well be an apt term… to apply to their customer base.

Anonymous Coward says:

It’s not just the movie industry, CEO pay compared to worker pay has gotten extremely imbalanced compared to what it was 50+ years ago. Back then it wasn’t that uncommon for the big CEO of giant companies to live in the same neighborhood in a house of a similar size as most of their employees. Not anymore though, unless the company is a small business.

Plus, CEO pay has gone up consistently in both good times (if you don’t pay us more we’ll go somewhere else paying better!) and bad times (I deserve extra pay for running this company as well as I am during a recession!).

Violated (profile) says:


Yet more hypocrisy by the copyright cartels having the highest paid executives around. Had the industry really been going through a hard time then leadership begins with a personal salary cut to say “hey workers, hard time, but we are all in this together”.

The USA is a strange place when they treat their movie stars like us British treat our Royalty. Acting in the UK is largely different when it is just a job commanding a fair wage and where indeed many can boost their income by adding pantomime and such.

Well fame is a disease and much of the movie and music world is all about making stars. Sure pay them a fortune not because they are worth the wage but because fame and fortune gets the young and foolish dreaming to follow in their footsteps. They even tap the wages of the more minor workers just to make their one true glamorous star even richer.

With monopolies raping the market at extreme prices then sure a lot of money goes around. I have always believe there must be huge wastage in the industry where movie budget growths seem to confirm this.

Anonymous Coward says:

it’s not just the execs. i bet just about everyone is getting more but it isn’t just from earnings. you need to remember all the monies that have been gained via law suits that were done in order to protect and reimburse the artists when actually not one received a dime! and dont forget either that Congress is doing whatever Hollywood etc says (for fear of Dodd removing all the funding that they get) under the lies of ‘we are losing millions of dollars to pirates! there are jobs being lost in the thousands every week ! how can we possibly carry on contributing to the economy under these circumstances? bring in stricter laws and harsher punishments for infringers! oh! forgot! we have tax breaks when no one else does and we dont hire anyone any more! damn! forgot about that!’

Anonymous Coward says:

I think they’re in the wrong business. They should just move on to the business of producing shitty movies then extorting people who share it.

They could insert some gay porn. Then they could threaten to call your neighbors and inform them you like to watch freaky porn, unless you pay up of course.

tywebb (profile) says:

Right, it’s just Hollywood. Not Pirate Mike’s benefactors as well?


If the fact that movie execs are paid so handsomely makes some feel justified in breaking the law, well, more power to them. Let’s face it, they were going to do it anyway because copyright term is too long, the evil companies won’t let you watch Game of Thrones for free, you can’t resell your MP3s you bought on iTunes, etc, etc, etc.

As usual, just another pointless attack against Hollywood by Pirate Mike. Nothing to see here.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

Whats funny is you just proved Mike’s point. He mentioned that on average that they make around 6 – 14 million less. Those 4 made a combined total of 124 million. So on average they made 31 million. That is 30 million less then the CEO of CBS.

As usual, just another pointless attack against Mike by an uniformed bystander. Nothing to see here.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:


Arrrrr! Methinks ye wish ye war PirateMike. Fightin tha gud fight! Tiltin at Hollywood windmills n tuppin tha wenches!

Instead yur livin a life dull n dreary, shillin fur Hollywood and gettin paid jus pennys for each pound o flesh ye extract.

Be a pirate! Yar! Ye won’t regret it! Jus push tha button, yur bosses r doin it! Why don yu?

tywebb (profile) says:

I actually don’t think Mike had a point other than to bash Hollywood, yet again. And those 4 Google executives mentioned were not the Chief executives of the company. No, their CEO can afford to work for nothing as he already has $20 billion in the bank. I’m sure the fact that their CEO lists his compensation as $1 skews the overall picture of compensation in the tech sector. Regardless, this is all a distraction designed to further Pirate Mike’s sole focus of criticizing the greedy content industries that are driven by nothing but profits and get off on screwing their customers whenever they can. I’m gonna go steal some shit from Wal-Mart this afternoon, because they pay their CEO too much. Sound about right?

Anonymous Coward says:

Unintended consequences of "Hollywood Accounting"....

What’s not obvious, is that this is probably a direct correlation of “Hollywood Accounting” methods…

By making an independent corporation for each movie, and shifting a large portion of revenue and expense to those corporations (which the Media Execs are not the CEO’s of) the studios are actually not accurately reflecting their true “market cap”. This is intentionally done to avoid showing the profit and having to pay those who they tricked into signing for a portion of net profits rather than gross receipts.

I’m not saying that the exec’s pay is not excessive (anything over 10 times the lowest full time paid employee is excessive), just that the comparison is not entirely accurate due to “Hollywood Accounting”, but don’t expect them to change things anytime soon…

JTD says:

Then Don't Play By Their Rules

I’ll fight Hollywood any and every way I can.
I no longer go to movies.
I no longer buy DVD movies.

I love the way they blame piracy. I bet publishers will be using the same scapegoats, too, as if copying books is anything new.

Back in the 70s I used to use a cassette recorder to tape songs off of the radio. I’d like to see them jail me for music piracy based on that!

Add Your Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here

Comment Options:

Make this the or (get credits or sign in to see balance) what's this?

What's this?

Techdirt community members with Techdirt Credits can spotlight a comment as either the "First Word" or "Last Word" on a particular comment thread. Credits can be purchased at the Techdirt Insider Shop »

Follow Techdirt

Techdirt Daily Newsletter

Techdirt Deals
Techdirt Insider Discord
The latest chatter on the Techdirt Insider Discord channel...