Not only was Charter Communications Chairman and CEO Tom Rutledge the highest-paid CEO in cable last year with a bullet, his $98.5 million in 2016 executive compensation also made him the top-paid CEO in all of America.
Rutledge beat out a trio of media executives for the distinguished income ranking—CBS Corp.’s Les Moonves ($68.6 million), Disney’s Bob Iger ($41 million) and Discovery Communications’ David Zaslav ($24.9 million).
All of these salaries are comprised mainly from stock compensation. And the companies justify these obscene numbers by the amount of shareholder value generated by these shot-callers.
“In 2016, Charter successfully completed its transactions with Time Warner Cable and Bright House Networks. The result was a Charter roughly four times larger than the legacy company," Charter said in a statement provided to FierceCable in March, just after Rutledge’s 2016 salary was revealed in a regulatory filing.
“The 2016 fiscal year was exceptional for CBS Corporation as it continued to achieve success on key financial results from the prior year,” CBS said in its own SEC filing. “This strong performance resulted from the leadership of Mr. Moonves and his senior management team in executing on key strategic growth initiatives and other key strategies, including continuing to strengthen the Company’s financial position, capitalizing on the value of its premium content and maximizing advertising revenues.”
According to Associated Press, the typical CEO at the biggest U.S. companies received an 8.5% raise last year, raking in $11.5 million in salary.
For his part, Rutledge received a 500% pay increase.