Charter Communications executives saw their total compensation plunge in 2017 – due mainly to the lack of massive one-time stock option awards – with chairman and CEO Tom Rutledge taking a $91 million haircut in a year that saw cable operators across the board struggle with the new pay TV paradigm.
Rutledge made $7.8 million in total compensation in 2017, a far cry from the $98.5 million he received in 2016, which made him the highest paid executive in media. The difference was in option awards – he received $77.9 million in 2016, nothing in 2017. The cable chief also did not receive stock awards in 2017, compared to $10.1 million in 2016. His base salary, at $2 million, stayed the same.
Other Charter executives also saw their big declines in total compensation, including chief operating officer John Bickham, whose total take fell from $47.4 million in 2016 to $4.9 million in 2017, and chief financial officer Christopher Winfrey. Winfrey’s compensation dropped from $29.2 million in 2016 to $2.1 million in 2017, while senior EVP David Ellen’s haul fell from $22.1 million in 2016 to $3.1 million in 2017. Lack of option awards were again the culprit – $35 million for Bickham, $23 million for Winfrey and $17.8 million for Ellen in 2016. None of those executives received option awards in 2017.