Income Inequality? The TV Industry Is on Top of It

I came across (via  Michelle Chen) a list of CEO/average worker pay ratios that Bloomberg (4/30/13) compiled earlier this year. The thing that struck me is how many television companies were near the top of the list–despite their average workers getting considerably more than an average wage.

Les Moonves (cc photo: David Shankbone)

Les Moonves (cc photo: David Shankbone)

The list looks at the top 250 publicly traded companies on the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index–sorted by whose CEO gets paid the most compared to their company’s average workers. Almost at the head of the list, at No. 6, is Leslie Moonves of CBS, who makes 1,111 times what an average CBS employee does: $69.9 million vs. $62,930.

Not far behind, at No. 17, is Walt Disney Co.‘s Robert Iger, who with $40.2 million in annual compensation makes 613 times average employees at ABC, ESPN and other Disney properties, who make an estimated $65,650 a year.

Rupert Murdoch (cc photo: World Economic Forum)

Rupert Murdoch (cc photo: World Economic Forum)

News Corp‘s Rupert Murdoch, the CEO behind Fox and Fox News, is 35th on the list, making $30 million a year, 457 times his employees’ $65,650. Brian Roberts of Comcast, which owns NBC and MSNBC, comes next at No. 36, with a $26.9 million payday, 428 times the $62,930 his workers get.

Beyond the Big 4, the CEOs of other TV companies are also near the top of the list: Discovery‘s David Zaslav is at No. 9, Viacom‘s Philippe Dauman is at No. 27 and Time Warner‘s Jeffrey Bewkes is No. 41. Note that all these TV bosses are in the top 20 percent in terms of how much more they make than their employees.

So if you ever wonder why rising inequality isn’t a big story for TV news, keep in mind that for the people in command at these networks, massive disparity of wealth isn’t a problem–it’s a way of life.

About Jim Naureckas

Extra! Magazine Editor Since 1990, Jim Naureckas has been the editor of Extra!, FAIR's monthly journal of media criticism. He is the co-author of The Way Things Aren't: Rush Limbaugh's Reign of Error, and co-editor of The FAIR Reader: An Extra! Review of Press and Politics in the '90s. He is also the co-manager of FAIR's website. He has worked as an investigative reporter for the newspaper In These Times, where he covered the Iran-Contra scandal, and was managing editor of the Washington Report on the Hemisphere, a newsletter on Latin America. Jim was born in Libertyville, Illinois, in 1964, and graduated from Stanford University in 1985 with a bachelor's degree in political science. Since 1997 he has been married to Janine Jackson, FAIR's program director. You can follow Jim on Twitter at @JNaureckas.