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Comcast Chief Brian Roberts Gets Pay Bump, NBCU’s Steve Burke Sees Decline in 2018

Comcast chairman-CEO Brian Roberts saw a bump in his total compensation for 2018 while NBCUniversal CEO Steve Burke’s haul declined by more than $6 million last year.

Roberts’ total compensation reached $35 million last year, fueled by a $10.7 million performance bonus and more than $10 million in stock options and awards, according to a Securities and Exchange Commission filing made Friday by Comcast. That was up from $32.5 million in 2017.

Burke’s tally for 2018 was $39.9 million, down from $46.5 million in 2017. Burke received a $10 million performance bonus and more than $10 million in stock options and awards. In 2016 and 2017, Burke’s paycheck was plumped by a $15.3 million bonus in both years.

The corporate officer compensation disclosures that come with corporate proxy season has stirred renewed debate over the issue of what many see as excessive CEO compensation levels for public company leaders. Experts say scrutiny of corporate pay practices is becoming a focus of activist investors and social justice advocates.

“Activism has had an impact on CEO pay but more along the lines of how CEOs are compensation — the performance measures used, the performance measures selected — rather than the level of compensation per se,” said Jason Schloetzer, associate professor of Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business. “This could change as activists might begin to scrutinize the level of CEO pay as a litmus test of governance quality.”

Such activism led to the establishment in 2017 of a new SEC rule requiring public companies to list the ratio of CEO compensation to the median salary earned by the company’s 161,000 employees, although Comcast notes that it has to include 12,000 part-time, seasonal and temporary workers in the tally. Roberts’ 2018 compensation is 426 times Comcast’s median salary of $82,205.

Other top earners at Comcast include CFO Michael Cavanagh, who saw a slight gain to $21.7 million, senior exec VP David Cohen ($19.1 million) and Comcast Cable chief David Watson ($14.7 million).

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