You Say Comcast, We Say “Compcast”…

April 15, 2010

Earlier today, Theo reported that Cablevision spent about $5.2 million to provide its top executives with goodies such as dividends, deferred comp, and some pretty sweet perks (e.g., cars and drivers, —executive home security, and even free cable!).

So surely the nation’s largest cable provider, Comcast Corp., (CMCSA) isn—t going to be outspent by a smaller company, is it?

Comcast may want you to think so. In its recent proxy, the company states:

Before 2006, we provided a limited amount of additional compensation through certain personal benefits to ease the demands on senior executives (including travel) and to provide security to our named executive officers and their families. Beginning in 2006, such benefits have been eliminated or our named executive officers have been required to pay us for any benefits that would otherwise be considered perquisites—. the Compensation Committee decided that as a matter of policy we should not provide tax gross-ups to our named executive officers for perquisites.

What an economical policy, right?

Yet if you look at the —Other Compensation column on the Summary Compensation Table, you—ll find that Comcast spent an aggregate $10.9 million on its NEOs — more than twice as much as Cablevision spent. Besides Senior VP/General Counsel/Secretary Arthur Block, who only got the basic $14,700 contribution to a retirement-investment plan account, the other four top executives got between $991,854 and more than $4.4 million each.

Most of that represents the company’s contributions to the executives— deferred compensation plans ($2,431,012 for Brian Roberts; $2,458,600 for Michael Angelakis; $3,944,800 for Stephen Burke; and $868,219 for David Cohen). But another large chunk represents personal use of either the company’s plane or a chartered plane. The two top users were Roberts, with $492,000 worth of personal time on the plane, and Burke, with $455,154. The company notes, —For security reasons, Company policy requires Messrs. Roberts and Burke to use Company provided aircraft for business and personal travel, although the named executive officers are required to pay us for personal use of Company provided aircraft in amounts determined by Company policy.

That might leave the impression that the executives have to pay for their personal use of the plane, but the next paragraph explains that these numbers are in addition to whatever amount the executive paid:

—The amounts reflected for each named executive officer in respect of personal use of Company provided aircraft indicate the extent to which the incremental cost of such use exceeds the amount paid to us by the named executive officer as stated above.” (emphasis added)

And yet – as high as these numbers are – they’re only a fraction of the total compensation that these executives received. Roberts, Angelakis, and Burke each received a 2009 comp package ranging from $21.5 million to nearly $34 million.

That being the case, perhaps the shareholders might propose that the company officially change its name to —Compcast?

Image source: Tyler Yip via Flickr

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