Gray giving $4M bonus to top executives

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Gray Television is handing out a $4 million bonus to its top executives for their “exceptional efforts” in 2016.

According to the Atlanta Business Chronicle, the cash will be split among three executives. President and CEO Hilton Howell will get $2,488,900, CFO James Ryan will get $716,130, and Chief Legal and Development Officer Kevin Latek will get $870,014.

The bonuses are being awarded "in recognition of, among other things, the exceptional efforts and contributions made by the executive officers during 2016 in continuing to execute on the Company’s growth strategy despite unexpected challenges in the political advertising environment, in further strengthening the Company’s balance sheet, and in delivering continued strong performance in total shareholder return over the long term."

RELATED: Gray reports sluggish revenues from political ads, but Nexstar bucks trend

Political advertising during last year’s presidential election campaign didn’t quite pan out the way Gray and other TV station groups had hoped.

"This year's political election season presented extra-ordinary challenges from the top of the ticket to the bottom, especially after mid-September. These challenges created a 'perfect storm' for our political revenue. Earlier this year, a large number of races were expected to be highly competitive and political fundraising appeared to be highly encouraging through the summer. However, actual spending by candidates, political parties and third-parties fell far short of expectations, especially in Gray's markets,” said Howell in a release. “The political revenue results and uncertain macro environment make it more likely that Gray will place the highest priority on debt repayment over the next four to five quarters."

The executive bonuses came on the same day that Gray updated its fourth-quarter outlook. The company’s revised revenue, broadcast operating expense and political advertising revenue ranges each slightly exceed the previous high-side revenue estimate of $237 million, broadcast operating expense estimate of $127.5 million and political advertising revenue estimate of $48 million, respectively, according to a news release.