CBS chief Leslie Moonves’ pay was $66.9 million in 2013

CBS Chief Executive Leslie Moonves is the highest-paid CEO in the media industry.
(Peter Foley, Bloomberg)

CBS has “The Big Bang Theory” and its boss has an astronomical paycheck.

Leslie Moonves, the network’s chief executive, was awarded a $66.9-million compensation package last year, according to a Securities and Exchange Commission filing Friday. That was up nearly 8% from the $62.2-million package he got in 2012, a year that also kept Moonves ‎in a rarefied group of the nation’s most handsomely compensated corporate executives.

Moonves was paid $3.5 million in salary and received a $28.5-million bonus. He also got stock awards valued at $26.5 million, plus $5.8 million in stock options. Then there are the perks that include personal use of a corporate aircraft, a security detail and a driver.

The network defended the rich pay package, pointing out that the company had a blockbuster year in 2013.


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CBS was the most-watched network last year, with hits such as “The Big Bang Theory,” “NCIS” and “Elementary” that helped push profit up 19% to nearly $2 billion. And the price of the company’s shares soared 69% in 2013.

“The share appreciation was not only the highest among major media companies, it was near the top of the entire S&P 500,” CBS said in a statement. “This is the fifth consecutive year that the company’s performance significantly exceeded the S&P 500, including a period during which CBS stock appreciated by more than 20 times.”

CBS shares fell $1.30, or 2.2%, to $58.68 on Friday, though they traded at an all-time high of $60.23 just last month.

Moonves is by far the highest-paid CEO in the media industry.

Walt Disney Co. Chief Executive Robert Iger’s pay fell to $34.3 million for the 2013 fiscal year. Discovery Communications CEO David Zaslav’s compensation package was valued at $33.3 million. Cable giant Comcast Corp., which runs NBCUniversal, reported Friday that CEO Brian L. Roberts received a $31-million pay package.

Moonves’ boss, 90-year-old Sumner Redstone, collected $57 million in compensation for the year. The CBS chairman also received $36 million as executive chairman of Viacom Inc., so his total payout from the two media giants was $93 million.

Moonves earns more than most Wall Street CEOs. His nearly $70-million payday is triple the $23 million that Goldman Sachs Group Inc. CEO Lloyd Blankfein made. It also blasts past the $20 million in compensation that JPMorgan Chase & Co. chief Jamie Dimon received.


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$67 million “is a really big number for a year’s worth of work,” said Charles Elson, a corporate governance expert at the University of Delaware. “Any time a number becomes a multiple of other highly paid CEOs, it’s a big figure.”

The highest paid CEO in the U.S is Oracle Corp.'s Larry Ellison. He received a package of $78.4 million in fiscal 2013, and that’s down 18% from the previous year.

Moonves’ big payout came at a crucial time for CBS.


The network prevailed during last summer’s high-profile monthlong dispute with Time Warner Cable Inc. over fees paid to carry the broadcast signal of local CBS stations. The company owns KCBS-TV Channel 2 and KCAL-TV Channel 9 in Los Angeles.

And this week saw Moonves orchestrate a smooth transition at CBS late night by naming the well-regarded Comedy Central comedian Stephen Colbert to replace David Letterman as host of “Late Show.” Letterman announced last week that he would retire in 2015.

Still, Moonves manages a company that is substantially smaller than its peers, such as Disney and Comcast.

The money Moonves makes could come in handy. The Beverly Hills resident recently bought a Malibu beach house from Microsoft Corp. founder Paul Allen. The New York Post reported that Moonves paid $28 million for Allen’s home along Carbon Beach, an enclave known for its concentration of billionaires, several of whom have ties to the entertainment industry.