Discovery has extended Chief Executive David Zaslav’s stock-rich employment contract for five years, keeping him at the helm of the New York-based television company through December 2023.
The company, in a statement, noted that the compensation package will make Zaslav “a significant, long-term shareholder in Discovery.” In past years, stock-rich payouts have made Zaslav, 58, one of the country’s highest paid executives.
Zaslav received compensation valued at $42.2 million last year — which was $6 million more than Walt Disney Chief Executive Bob Iger was paid to run a much larger company, according to regulatory filings.
Meanwhile, Zaslav collected $37.2 million in 2016 and $32.4 million in 2015.
Terms of his new agreement stipulate that Zaslav’s base salary will remain $3 million a year and, this year, his target bonus will remain $9 million. However, the target for his bonus will increase to $22 million a year in subsequent years, according to a regulatory filing. There is no guaranteed bonus amount.
The former NBC executive joined Discovery as its CEO in 2007, running such nonfiction programming channels as Discovery, TLC, Animal Planet, OWN and Discovery ID. He has helped the company build a significant overseas presence.
The new employment deal, announced Wednesday, came four months after Discovery completed its $12-billion acquisition of Scripps Networks Interactive, which added Food Network, Travel Channel and HGTV to Discovery’s portfolio.
Zaslav also helped structure a partnership with the PGA Tour to create an international golf service, which will be available outside the U.S., and include television and streaming rights to PGA Tour media properties.
Discovery stock on Wednesday closed up 20 cents to $26.58. Shares have rebounded somewhat this year after a tough period for cable TV programmers that have been squeezed by cord-cutting.
“Under David’s leadership, Discovery has scaled new heights becoming the leader in sports across Europe, building the leading global [intellectual property] portfolio of high quality content, and positioning Discovery for continued global growth,” John Malone, a Discovery board member and chairman of Liberty Media Corp., one of Discovery’s leading shareholders, said in a statement.