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Jan 27, 2004  •  Post A Comment

Disney Reveals Eisner, Iger Compensation; Roy Disney Urges Eisner’s Ouster

Walt Disney Co. Chairman and CEO Michael Eisner took home 20 percent more in fiscal year 2003 than he did the previous year, with his stock-based bonus going up by more than $1 million. His No. 2, President and Chief Operating Officer Robert Iger, saw his pay package grow by 22 percent.

According to a proxy statement filed Tuesday with the Securities and Exchange Commission, Mr. Eisner’s total remuneration for the 12 months ended Sept. 30, 2003, was more than $7.3 million, compared with a year-ago figure of nearly $6.1 million. Though his base salary of $1 million was unchanged, Mr. Eisner saw his annual bonus — in the form of stock — swell to $6.25 million from a year-earlier figure of $5 million. The executive did not receive a cash bonus.

Though his overall take-home grew, Mr. Eisner saw a decline in so-called “other compensation,” which in Mr. Eisner’s case encompasses use of company aircraft and a security detail for both business and non-business travel. In fiscal year 2003, other compensation fell to nearly $63,700 from a year-earlier level of almost $88,200. (The security detail and use of company aircraft are mandated by the Disney board, the company said in the proxy.)

Meanwhile, Mr. Iger’s total remuneration reached nearly $6.9 million in fiscal year 2003, up 22 percent from a year-earlier $5.7 million. His base salary grew to nearly $1.4 million from a year-earlier figure of $1 million, and he received a $4 million cash bonus in addition to $1 million worth of stock. He also received $500,000 in connection with deferred salary for fiscal years 2003, 2002 and 2001 as set forth in his employment contract.

The disclosures about executive compensation come as Mr. Eisner faced fresh protests from Disney family heir and former board member Roy Disney, who issued a letter to shareholders Tuesday urging them not to re-elect Mr. Eisner and three other directors to the company’s board at the company’s March 3 annual shareholders meeting.

The letter is the latest volley in an ongoing battle that has pitched Mr. Disney and fellow former board member Stanley Gold against Mr. Eisner and several board members over the direction of the company. Both Mr. Disney and Mr. Gold resigned in November to protest Mr. Eisner’s leadership and the direction of the company.

“We are seeking a NO vote on Michael Eisner and also a NO vote on George Mitchell, Judith Estrin and John Bryson because they symbolize, respectively, the poor management, poor governance, poor compensation practices and a lack of board independence that are impeding the development of long-term shareholder value at The Walt Disney Co.,” Mr. Disney said in his letter.

Former ‘Tonight Show’ Host Jack Paar Dead at 85: Jack Paar, one of the first stars of late-night TV, died Tuesday at his home in Greenwich, Conn. Mr. Paar, who hosted NBC’s “Tonight Show” from 1957 to 1962, was 85.

Ohio-born Mr. Paar had what was reported nearly a year ago as a stroke.

According to the Associated Press, his son-in-law, Stephen Wells, said Mr. Paar suffered from a long illness and Mr. Paar’s wife of more than 60 years, Miriam, and his daughter Randy were by his side.

“We’re in a bit of a fog,” Mr. Wells told the AP. “There were a lot of people who knew Jack and loved him.”

When Mr. Paar took over “Tonight,” later renamed “The Jack Paar Show” in 1958, he was following the variety act of Steve Allen. Mr. Paar redefining late-night as a home for interesting conversation with a wide variety of guest, including boxer Cassius Clay, who would change his name to Muhammad Ali, and then Sen. John Fitzgerald Kennedy, who would become president of the United States.

Regis Philbin saw Mr. Paar’s show and thought that he, too, might make a living just talking to people. Perhaps a decade ago he finally met Mr. Paar and they became good friends. Mr. Philbin, vacationing on the West Coast Tuesday, told TelevisionWeek that he had visited Mr. Paar at his Greenwich home over the Christmas holidays.

“I realized his condition was precarious,” said Mr. Philbin.

Mr. Paar’s career was filled with colorful and witty stories worth retelling, and he included some in his memoir, “I Kid You Not.”

One incident for which Mr. Paar was famous was his walking off his show in 1960 to protest his being edited by a network censor. He returned to the show a month later, saying breezily, “As I was saying, before I was interrupted … “

After his NBC late-night run ended and he was succeeded by Johnny Carson, Mr. Paar briefly hosted an ABC prime-time show in 1975.

Bolter Hired as E! Networks Senior VP: E! Networks has hired former industry consultant Howard Bolter as senior VP of network and production operations, the company announced Tuesday. In the newly created position, Mr. Bolter will oversee Steven Blue, who was recently appointed VP of production management. “We’re pleased to have Howard and Steve join the company at such a dynamic time in the evolution of both E! and Style,” said Mark Sonnenberg, executive VP of entertainment. “The creation of this new senior executive position demonstrates our strong commitment to original production and concentrated effort to further streamline operations throughout E! Networks.”

E! Networks is also celebrating the success of Sunday’s two-hour Golden Globes “Live from the Red Carpet” special, hosted by Joan and Melissa Rivers, which delivered a 2.84 household rating-up 49 percent from 2003.

FCC Fines Clear Channel Communications: Firing off the starting gun on a new indecency crackdown, the Federal Communications Commission announced Tuesday afternoon that it had fined Clear Channel Communications $755,000 for airing off-color programming on several Florida radio stations. In addition, the FCC said it had fined Young Broadcasting another $27,500 for material that appeared on KRON-TV in San Francisco’s morning news show.

The Clear Channel fines were assessed for a series of 26 sexual references on the “Bubba the Love Sponge” program. The KRON fine was imposed after an actor for a stage show called “Puppetry of the Penis” exposed himself briefly during an interview segment on the station more than a year ago. Said FCC Chairman Michael Powell, “Today we open another front in our increased efforts to curb indecency on our nation’s airwaves by focusing on indecency in television.”

Concerned that the FCC has not been taking indecency enforcement seriously enough, the House telecommunications subcommittee has slated hearings on the subject for Wednesday morning. David Solomon, chief of the Federal Communications Commission’s Enforcement Bureau, will be the lead government witness. Also to be called to the witness stand, according to the committee: L. Brent Bozell III, president, Parents Television Council; William Wertz, executive VP, Fairfield Broadcasting Co.; and Robert Corn-Revere, a First Amendment attorney.

NBC Wins Monday: NBC rode the coattails of “Fear Factor” to a Monday night win. “Fear” averaged a 7.7 rating and a 19 share in the 18-49 demo and 17.9 million viewers for its hour and was tops among all shows for the night, according to preliminary data from Nielsen Media Research. For the night, NBC finished with an average of 14.2 million viewers and a 6.1/15 in the 18-49 demo. CBS, with “Everybody Loves Raymond” and “CSI: Miami” in repeats, averaged 13.3 million viewers for the night and a 4.1/10 in the demo. Fox’s combo of a “lost episode” of “The Simple Life” and “My Big Fat Obnoxious Fiance” (13.3 million viewers and 6.2/14 in the demo) gave the network an average 10.3 million viewers and a 4.9/12 for the night. ABC averaged 7.3 million viewers and a 2.9/7 with a repeat of “Armageddon,” followed by The WB (5.9 million and 2.2/5) and UPN (3.5 million and 1.4/3).

Cox Named CPB President: The Corporation for Public Broadcasting has promoted Kathleen Cox to president and CEO, effective July 1. Ms. Cox, currently the organization’s executive VP, will succeed Robert Coonrod, who has held the post for seven years. CPB oversees federal funding to public broadcasting.

MTR Pre
sents History of Gay Images on TV Series: The museums of Television & Radio in both New York and Los Angeles will present a 13-part look at how gays and lesbians have made the transition from invisible to front and center over the past 40 years.

The screening series “Not That There’s Anything Wrong With That: The History of Gay and Lesbian Images on Television” will run March 26 to June 27. Times are 4 p.m. Tuesdays-Sundays and 6 p.m. Thursdays in New York and 3 p.m. Wednesdays-Sundays in Los Angeles.

The entries in the series range from early and unenlightened (with examples from “Marcus Welby, M.D.” and “Police Woman”) to comedic (“Brothers” and “Soap”) to later and more successful groundbreakers (“Will & Grace” and “The L Word”).

Outdoor Life Network to Launch ‘Samurai Sportsman’: Outdoor Life Network will launch a program, “Samurai Sportsman,” Jan. 31 at 9:30 p.m. The show features Yoshi, a modern- day samurai who will combine humor and a fun-spirited approach as he uses his martial arts training to master traditional American outdoor activities. The premiere episode will feature Yoshi learning bass fishing from Bill Dance while he teaches the celebrated fisherman the way of the sword.

CNN Employees Killed En Route To Baghdad: Two CNN employees were killed and a third wounded Tuesday when they were ambushed while returning to Baghdad from an assignment. Killed were a translator-producer, Duraid Isa Mohammed, and a driver, Yasser Khatab, who had been hired by CNN a year ago, according to a story posted on CNN.com.

Cameraman Scott McWhinnie, who was riding in another vehicle, was grazed in the head by a bullet. Correspondent Michael Holmes, producer Shirley Hung, a security adviser and a second driver, who were traveling with Mr. McWhinnie, were not hurt.

Former ‘Tonight Show’ Host Jack Paar Dead at 85: Jack Paar, one of the first stars of late-night TV, died Tuesday at his home in Greenwich, Conn. Mr. Paar, who hosted NBC’s “Tonight Show” from 1957 to 1962, was 85.

Mr. Paar’s son-in-law, Stephen Wells, said Mr. Paar had suffered from a long illness and his wife and his daughter were by his side at his death, according to the Associated Press. “We’re in a bit of a fog,” Mr. Wells told the AP. “There were a lot of people who knew Jack and loved him.”

New York Times Co. Reports 3 Percent Increase: Newspaper and broadcasting company New York Times Co. reported a 3 percent increase in fourth-quarter profit to $110.9 million, as advertising gains at the company’s newspapers offset declines at the company’s eight network-affiliated television stations.

On a per-share basis, the company’s profit was 73 cents for the quarter, compared with a year-earlier profit of 69 cents. Revenue at the parent company of The New York Times newspaper climbed 5 percent to $882.3 million in the quarter.

For the year, the company said its profit rose 1 percent to $302.7 million, or $1.98 a share, vs. $299.7 million, or $1.94 a share, a year ago.

The company’s broadcast unit recorded a 15 percent decline in fourth-quarter revenue to $40.4 million, while operating profit tumbled 31 percent to $13.1 million. The company attributed the weak results to a sharp fall in political advertising captured by the broadcast division. The company said its TV stations took in $3.2 million in the fourth quarter compared with a year-earlier revenue of $13.2 million.

Hearst-Argyle Television Makes Deal to Acquire WMTW-TV: Station group Hearst-Argyle Television said today it has struck a deal to acquire ABC affiliate WMTW-TV in Portland, Maine, for $37.5 million from WMTW Broadcast Group, as part of a broader strategy at the company to extend its reach in New England.

The station, which covers the Portland-Auburn, Maine, television market joins three other Hearst-Argyle stations in the region: WMUR-TV in Manchester, N.H.; WNNE-TV in Burlington/White River Junction, Vt.; and WCVB-TV in Boston.

Vivendi Drops Suit Against Messier: Vivendi Universal said Tuesday it was withdrawing its French lawsuit against deposed former Chairman Jean-Marie Messier and former Chief Operating Officer Eric Licoys over a disputed severance claim.

The Paris-based conglomerate’s decision to withdraw the lawsuit follows settlements reached by Mr. Messier, Mr. Licoys and Vivendi Universal with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission over securities violations committed during Mr. Messier’s tenure.

Mr. Messier was pushed out of Vivendi in July 2002 after the company’s board discovered he had concealed the severity of the company’s liquidity crunch. Mr. Messier claimed he was entitled to a severance package of about $25 million. However, Vivendi, which has recovered from its financial woes since the company nearly collapsed under a mountain of debt in 2002, challenged Mr. Messier’s claim, saying he did not receive proper approval for the payment.

Both Vivendi and Mr. Messier abandoned the fight over the severance package late last year when they settled with the SEC.

Meredith Reports Q2 Profits: Meredith, a publishing and television station company, Tuesday posted a 5 percent rise in fiscal second-quarter profit to $20.2 million, or 39 cents a share, compared with a year-earlier profit of $19.3 million, or 38 cents a share, lifted by a bounce in advertising spending at the company’s flagship magazines- Better Homes and Gardens and Ladies’ Home Journal-that offsets a decline in TV station advertising.

Revenue at Des Moines, Iowa-based Meredith, which in addition to the magazines owns 12 television stations, came in at $280.4 million, an 11 percent rise from year-earlier levels.

Operating profits for the company’s broadcast stations, which include network-affiliated properties in Atlanta and Phoenix, fell 21 percent to $21.3 million on a 9 percent decline in revenue to $73.5 million-the result of a decline in political advertising, which more than offset a 10 percent jump in nonpolitical ad spending.

McGraw-Hill Gets Record Q4 Surge: McGraw-Hill Cos., the information services and publishing company that owns four ABC-affiliated television stations, recorded a 19 percent surge in fourth-quarter profit to $159.9 million, as a strong performance at the company’s rating agency, Standard & Poor’s, overshadowed meager gains at the company’s education unit and declines at the company’s media services unit, which includes the TV stations.

Revenue at the company climbed 7 percent to $1.2 billion. For the year, McGraw-Hill’s profit rose 19 percent to $687.7 million on a 4 percent increase in revenue to $4.8 billion.

The company’s broadcast properties posted a 12 percent decline in revenue to $27.8 million for the quarter, and a 6 percent drop to $103.3 million for the year, largely due to a shortfall in political advertising spending.