Media fat cats can rest easier

Item part of package of proposed investor-friendly rules

Hollywood high rollers — relax.

A controversial SEC plan to force public companies to reveal pay packages of their top earners is losing steam.

Viacom, CBS, Walt Disney, NBC Universal, News Corp. and Jeffrey Katzenberg went ballistic at the prospect of publicizing paydays of studio chiefs, star anchors, actors and directors.

The item is part of a larger package of proposed investor-friendly rules on corporate disclosure. Current regs require only salaries of the top corporate officers.

Given the outcry in Tinseltown, Securities and Exchange Commission chairman Christopher Cox recently predicted the proposal will be scaled back or scrapped.

And commissioner Annette Nazareth, one two Democrats on the five-member panel, said she’d favor dropping it.

The SEC will formally vote on the proposal in two to three months, after its staffers write up recommendations.

Media companies say publicly listing the biggest paychecks would create internal catfights, encourage poaching by rivals and further inflate salaries as managers at different companies study each other’s numbers.

Employees are assets, they say, like TV stations or real estate. If you don’t have to disclose the cost of building a new factory, why report Katie Couric‘s salary?

“It comes across as a ‘Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous’ curiosity,” says Ron Mueller, a securities lawyer and partner at Gibson Dunn & Crutcher in Washington D.C

“Not that it wouldn’t be interesting,” he adds.

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