sumner redstone
Alex Berliner/BEI

Viacom said annual compensation for its two top executives declined in 2015, when scrutiny of the New York entertainment conglomerate’s operations intensified due to speculation over the health of executive chairman Sumner Redstone and challenges to the company’s business operations.

Redstone’s annual compensation fell 85% in fiscal 2015 to $2 million, compared with a total of $13 million in 2014, Viacom said in a release made Wednesday ahead of the filing of its annual proxy statement.

Redstone’s salary was unchanged in fiscal 2015, according to the company. He became ineligible to receive a bonus beginning in fiscal 2015 and has not been eligible to receive an annual equity award since fiscal 2012. Redstone has not had a vocal presence on Viacom’s conference calls with investors in months and has not appeared at recent shareholder meetings.

The bonus awarded Philippe Dauman, the company’s president and chief executive officer, declined 30% to $14 million in fiscal 2015, compared with $20 million in the prior year, while his contractually provided salary and annual equity award were substantially unchanged.  Dauman received a salary of $4 million in fiscal 2015, compared with a salary of $3.9 million in fiscal 2014, Viacom said, and an annual equity award valued at $18.9 million in fiscal 2015, compared with an annual equity award valued at $19.9 million in fiscal 2014.

Viacom did not offer specific reasons for the reductions, but the company has suffered through tough conditions in recent months. Ratings have tumbled year over year at flagship operations like MTV and Comedy Central. Its Paramount movie studio has not had a swell of releases, though it has a robust pipeline for 2016. The company took a restructuring charge of $784 million early last year and cut hundreds of jobs across its cable networks, which were consolidated into one operating division from two.

Dauman has articulated a strategy of reworking ad deals so they are based on new measures, including data other than Nielsen, as well as a renewed emphasis on new content.


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