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Bad Ideas

The Obscene Pay of Viacom Execs

Sumner Redstone, Philippe Dauman and Tom Dooley
Sumner Redstone, Philippe Dauman and Tom Dooley

Viacom, the media conglomerate that owns Nickelodeon, Comedy Central, Spike TV, and other animation-producing divisions, as well as Paramount, which is releasing Rango this year, pays its top executives ridiculous amounts of money, according to the company’s latest Securities and Exchange Commission filing. Its three top execs took home $164.2 million last year in the form of salaries, stock options and awards. Here’s the breakdown:

Philippe Dauman, chief executive: $84.5 million
Tom Dooley, chief operating officer: $64.7 million
Sumner Redstone, chairman/controlling shareholder: $15 million

“Those are amazing numbers,” Charles Elson, director of the John L. Weinberg Center for Corporate Governance at the University of Delaware, told the LA Times. “Those are entrepreneurial returns for a managerial role. I’ll be interested to see what the investors think.”

Look at it this way. According to this internal memo, Viacom reduced its staff to 11,350 people in late 2008. Using that figure, these three guys earned the equivalent of $14,466 for each of the company’s 10,000 plus employees. Or another way to think about it: they could have given every Viacom employee a $5,000 bonus last year and still split over $100 million between the three of them. But they would never consider doing anything like that. These mofos are the personification of greed, plain and simple.

And what is it that they do exactly? One can only imagine how difficult it must be for Messrs. Dauman and Dooley to decide how many new episodes of SpongeBob and Jersey Shore to greenlight. Even if these guys were curing cancer and eliminating hunger in the developing world while manning a space mission to Mars, I frankly don’t see how this type of payday could be justified. As it is, being responsible for running a shitty media conglomerate that produces volumes of crass, here-today-gone-tomorrow junk, the only words that come to mind for their compensation packages are obscene and disgusting.