Discovery Extends CEO Zaslav’s Contract Through End of 2019

Company moves early to keep topper on board; contract was set to expire in 2015

David Zaslav Discovery
Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images

David Zaslav will remain at the head of Discovery Communications through the end of 2019, under a new contract unveiled Friday by the Silver Spring, Md., owner of the Discovery, TLC, and Investigation Discovery cable networks.

The move suggests the board of directors of the media company is pleased with Zaslav’s performance. His previous deal was set to expire in 2015, according to a Discovery spokeswoman. ” He built a strong management team that has expanded the company’s reach and relevance, increased its market share domestically and around the world, and created a bigger, stronger portfolio of brands,” said John Malone, Chairman of Liberty Media Corporation and Liberty Global, Inc., and a member of Discovery’s board, in a statement. ” We look forward to working with David to do more of the same over the next six years.”

According to a filing Discovery made with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission Friday, Zaslav will receive an annual salary of $3 million, with a bonus of $6.6 million in 2014, if certain targets are met. The bonus amount is scheduled to increase $600,000 each year until 2018, according to the filing. In 2018 and 2019, the target bonus would total as much as $9 million each year. The company cautioned that no bonus amount is guaranteed; rather the amount paid would hinge on the company’s financial performance, among other factors.

Zaslav joined Discovery from NBCUniversal in 2007. He had supervised content distribution and struck a range of carriage deals for that company’s content, and played a role in the launch of both CNBC and MSNBC. Since his arrival at Discovery, the company has made several strategic international investments, launched new cable outlets including OWN, Velocity, The Hub and Destination America and raised the number of overseas networks carrying its programming to 200 from 100, the company said in a statement Friday.

As part of his employment pact, Zaslav will continue to be  a significant long-term shareholder in Discovery Communications. The company said the executive has “committed to hold the majority of his equity from stock grants to term, furthering the alignment of shareholder and management interests.”

“I am extraordinarily confident of Discovery’s growth prospects for the years ahead,” Zaslav said in a prepared statement.