Big deals for Cablevision, Liberty Media leaders

Just in time for the holidays, top execs at Liberty Media and Cablevision have inked rich new employment contracts.

Greg Maffei cut a five-year deal to remain prexy-CEO of Liberty Media Corp. that takes effect Jan. 1. His pact gives him a base salary of $1.5 million, with a 5% annual increase and an annual bonus targeted at about $3 million, according to a Securities and Exchange Commission filing by Liberty.

Maffei, who has been CEO of Liberty since early 2006, is coming off a busy year at John Malone’s holding company, having completed the spinoff of satcaster DirecTV and the corporate reorg of Liberty’s domestic entertainment assets, including the Starz-Encore cablers and Overture Films. Last week, Liberty surprised the biz with the appointment of former HBO chief Chris Albrecht as prexy-CEO of the Starz group.

Maffei’s new deal also grants him more than 10 million options for Liberty’s three tracking stocks, most of them in the Internet-driven Liberty Interactive shares. The options have a 10-year term and will vest by December 2014.

Cablevision’s top three execs also signed five-year contract extensions this month with eye-popping compensation terms. The new deals for Cablevision CEO James Dolan, whose family is the company’s controlling shareholder, and longtime Cablevision vice chairman Hank Ratner also incorporate separate contracts covering their exec roles at Madison Square Garden Inc., which Cablevision expects to spin off as a separate entity by the first quarter.

Dolan’s five-year contract for Cablevision calls for a base salary of $1.5 million plus a bonus of up to four times that salary, according to an SEC filing by Cablevision on Thursday. Next year, Dolan will also be entitled to receive additional cash and equity compensation targeted at $7 million. He’ll likely get similar payments in subsequent years, though the filing cautions that this coin is “not guaranteed” beyond next year.

For his role as executive chairman of MSG, which includes the famed Gotham arena and Radio City Music Hall, Dolan will earn a base salary of $500,000 a year, plus a bonus of up to four times that salary, plus extra cash and equity compensation targeted at $1.75 million a year.

Ratner will earn a base salary of $500,000 a year to continue as Cablevision’s vice chairman, and he’ll earn $1.2 million a year as prexy-CEO of MSG, plus bonuses of up to four times each salary. He’s also in line for additional cash and equity comp targeted at $1.4 million next year for his Cablevision gig, and he’ll receive a one-time stock award valued at $1.75 million by March 31. For his role as MSG chief, he’s entitled to extra cash and equity comp targeted at $5.4 million next year.

Tom Rutledge, Cablevision’s chief operating officer, will take home a base salary of $1.63 million annually and a bonus of up to four times that salary. He was also set to receive a “special payment” of $7.75 million within 10 days of signing the new contract. And like Dolan and Ratner, Rutledge is due to receive extra cash and equity comp targeted at $6.8 million next year.

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