March shareholder meet moves to Hollywood

Nickelodeon’s soft ratings may have lightened the wallets of top Viacom execs, who saw bonus payments slashed in fiscal 2012.

CEO Philippe Dauman’s total pay package dropped 23% to $33.5 million from $43.1 million for the year ended in September. His base salary of $3.5 million was flat, but an $11 million bonus was nearly halved from $20 million. Most of the rest of his payout came from combined stock and option awards, according to a proxy statement Viacom filed with the SEC Friday.

Chairman Sumner Redstone, whom Forbes estimates is worth $4.1 billion, saw his bonus shrink to $5.7 million from $10 million.

Chief operating officer Thomas Dooley saw his drop to $9.2 million from $16 million.

“Our fiscal year 2012 results reflected both the global economic slowdown and ratings challenges at several of our cable television networks,” the company said in its year-end filing.

However, “in the face of this adversity,” the proxy noted, Viacom still managed to boost operating income and generate significant cash.

Nickelodeon ratings took a sudden, sharp dip in the fall of 2011. Viacom spent all of last year tinkering with the schedule and rolling out new shows, and the net has begun to see a turnaround. MTV also hit a rocky patch but is on the mend.

Viacom also announced it will be holding its annual meeting of shareholders on Thursday, March 21, at Paramount Pictures in Hollywood. That’s a lot closer to home for 89-year-old Redstone, who lives in Beverly Hills. The meet is usually held in Gotham, where a kerfuffle erupted last year when it seemed he might not attend.

Redstone’s pay package of nearly $21 million was about flat from the year before as a big bump in the value of his pension balanced the bonus shortfall. His base salary was unchanged at $1.75 million.

Dooley’s total compensation of $26.3 million was down 22% from $34 million. His base salary of $2.5 million was also flat.

The other two highest-paid execs at Viacom last year, general counsel Michael Fricklas and chief financial officer James Barge, pulled in packages worth $6.8 million and $2.7 million, respectively. Barge announced his departure in November and was replaced by Wade Davis.

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