Peter Chernin barely edged out Rupert Murdoch in 2008 as the highest-paid News Corp (NYSE: NWS). exec but Fox News Chairman and CEO Roger Ailes handily beat them all in fiscal 2009 with total compensation of $23.7 million. That’s more than double the $10.9 million Ailes made in 2007 and a handy increase from $19.9 million last year. At the same time, Rupert Murdoch’s incentive pay was cut nearly 70 percent.
Chernin, who left as COO June 30, was down to a mere $22.2 million from $28.8 million in 2008 and just under $34 million in 2007, according to proxy statement filed with the SEC Thursday. Chairman and CEO Rupert Murdoch took the biggest hit, dropping to $19.9 million from $27.5 million in 2008 and $32.1 million in 2007. His son James Murdoch, chairman and CEO for Europe and Asia, got a roughly 80 percent in base pay to match his promotion but his overall compensation of $9.2 million was still below last year’s $10.9 million. CFO Dave DeVoe’s package dropped too, to under $8 million from $9.7 million last year.
What happened? Everyone but Ailes took a hit on incentive-based compensation; he topped everyone at $5.5 million, while Rupert Murdoch’s dropped nearly 70 percent to $5.3. That’s because he’s judged on different criteria based on his responsibilities for Fox News and Fox Business (and it’s structured to emphasize the former with added benefits it the business net hits certain goals.) The compensation for top execs being judged only company-wide performance, however, “declined significantly in fiscal 2009 as compared to fiscal 2008, reflecting the impact of the current economic downturn on our corporate earnings.” On the other hand, the board awarded millions for performance even though byy some measure the execs shouldn’t have received any compensation for that all. (The AP does a good job walking through the details.)