Compensation for many top executives rises after a strong year while the phone hacking scandal seems to have had no effect
Updated 2:47 p.m. PT:
James Murdoch, CEO and Chairman of News Corp. Europe & Asia, has declined his bonus as a result of the phone hacking scandal that deepened under his watch. Murdoch was set to receive a bonus of $6 million, raising his overall compensation to $18 million.
As part of his duties, Murdoch, son of News Corp. Chairman and CEO Rupert Murdoch, oversees News International, the media conglomerate's British publishing arm that ran the now-shuttered tabloid News of the World.
Murdoch released the following statement Friday:
"In light of the current controversy surrounding News of the World, I have declined the bonus that the company chose to award to me. While the financial and operating performance metrics on which the bonus decision was based are not associated with this matter, I feel that declining the bonus is the right thing to do. I will consult with the Compensation Committee in the future about whether any bonus may be appropriate at a later date."
As that final sentence suggests, Murdoch may collect the bonus later.
After speculation about how large a bonus News Corp. chairman and CEO Rupert Murdoch would receive while his company is besieged by scandal, it turns out the real number is $12.5 million. For those keeping score at home, his total payday will be $33 million, 47 percent more than last year.
Murdoch’s son James, chairman and CEO of News Corp. Europe & Asia, received a $6 million bonus for a total of $18 million – 74 percent more than last year.
Both bonus figures are likely to cause some consternation given the phone hacking scandal that has dominated all News Corp.-related discussion for two months.
James’ bonus may be particuarly galling to some given that he oversees News International, the British publishing division that ran the News of the World, the defunct tabloid that conducted phone hacking and is suspected of having bribed public officials.
That may help explain why both this release and the announcement of changes to the News Corp. board were timed for the Friday before Labor Day weekend, when no one in the United States is paying much attention.
Still, neither Murdoch has been directly linked to performing or having any knowledge of wrongdoing in this matter. James is the Murdoch with his feet to the fire at the moment, as questions have emerged as to whether he misled the UK Parliament in his testimony.
The bonuses of other prominent News Corp. figures were also announced with COO Chase Carey netting $10 million, for an overall take of $30 million — a smaller bonus than last year but greater overall compensation.
Fox News honcho Roger Ailes earned a $1.5 million bonus for a total of $15.5 million.