Discovery Chief David Zaslav 2020 Pay Drops to $37.7 Million

Discovery Chief Executive Officer David Zaslav’s total compensation fell more than 17% in 2020, topping out at $37.7 million.

That was down from the $45.8 million that Zaslav pulled in the previous year and significantly down from the massive $129.4 million in compensation that the Discovery chief earned in 2018, which included the value of stock options that amounted to more than $100 million as part of a new employment contract.

This time, the bulk of Zaslav’s compensation came from stock awards ($12.5 million) and non-equity incentive plan compensation ($21.8 million). His salary remained locked at $3 million. Zaslav also received $16,800 for a car allowance, $501 for home office expenses, $16,930 for personal security services, and $355,355 for private plane use. He was granted no options. Discovery is required to publish the ratio to Zaslav’s pay to those of its median employee as part of the Dodd-Frank law. That employee makes $66,689, so it would take them 565 years to equal Zaslav’s annual compensation.

Zaslav’s generous compensation plan continues the trend of rich COVID era paydays for media CEOs, some of whom made a show of forgoing a salary when the pandemic hit, only to quietly return to their former levels as the crisis dragged on.

In awarding Zaslav his 2020 cash bonus, the board determined the Discovery chief
met 98.2% of his quantitative goals and 100% of his qualitative goals. They credited the CEO with safeguarding the company’s financial performance “during difficult and rapidly changing economic times” and growing its direct-to-consumer business.

Other top-paid Discovery executives included Chief Financial Officer Gunnar Wiedenfels, who earned $6.9 million in total compensation, down from the $7.4 million he earned in 2019. Jean-Briac Perrette, president and CEO of Discovery International, earned $10.4 million total compensation, down from $14.4 million in 2019.

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