‘Because They Can’: Inside the Growing Debate on Media CEOs’ Jaw-Dropping Salaries

Since becoming president and CEO of Discovery Inc. 12 years ago, David Zaslav has consistently ranked near the top among highest-paid CEOs in media and entertainment. In 2014 and again last year, he was the top-paid CEO of a public company in the United States.

His compensation package for 2018 was valued at $129,449,005, a jaw-dropping sum that has drawn outrage at a time when rising income inequality is gaining traction as a political issue, and the decisions of corporate entities like Discovery are under increasing scrutiny from investors, regulators and legislators as well as the public at large.

As president and CEO, Zaslav has presided over a 15% rise in the compound annual growth rate of Discovery shares and the expansion of its market cap from $5 billion to nearly $22 billion. For the year to date, Discovery shares are up nearly 30% as it harvests returns from its acquisition last year of Scripps Networks Interactive as well as the M&A buzz swirling around content-focused companies.