Discovery Extends Zaslav’s Contract

Discovery Communications has extended David Zaslav’s contract through Feb. 1, 2015, in a covenant that will see the president and CEO of the media conglomerate earn a base salary of $3 million per year effective the first of January, 2011, up 50 percent from the original $2 million Zaslav signed on for when he joined the company in 2007.

In addition to the extra numbers printed on Zaslav’s paycheck, the Discovery chief’s performance bonus target was raised from $3 million to $4 million for 2009, with annual hikes of $500,000 lined up from 2010 to 2014, per an 8-K filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Along with the salary and incentive boosts, Zaslav will be eligible to receive three tranches of performance-based restricted stock units in Discovery’s Series A common stock, to be issued in the first quarters of the next three years, a number not to exceed 800,000.

Discovery re-upped Zaslav with more than two years left on his original agreement. “The Board approached David in order to secure his leadership and provide the company with stability and continuity for years to come”, said John Hendricks, Discovery Communications founder and chairman, in a statement released by the media conglomerate. “By any measure or metric, Discovery Communications has had a terrific performance, and securing David’s leadership gives me great confidence, the best is yet to come.”

Shares of Discovery stock closed Thursday at a 52-week high ($28.45), up 94 percent from $14.65 at the beginning of the year. In the second quarter of 2009, Discovery quadrupled its net income, posting a profit of $183 million versus $43 million in the prior year period.

Despite a tottering advertising market, Discovery was able to boost its domestic ad sales revenue 1 percent in the quarter, to $290 million. Sequentially, Discovery grew its stateside ad sales revenue by 19 percent, after having sold $244 million worth of inventory in the first three months of 2009.

“Discovery is a fantastic media company with an unmatched global footprint, strong brands and compelling content,” Zaslav said in a press release. “I look forward to working with the board, and a great leadership team, to grow our market share around the world … and to drive long-term sustainable growth for years to come.”