Rupert Murdoch is not the highest paid executive at his News Corp. media empire — that designation goes to Fox News Channel Chairman Roger Ailes.
Ailes, considered the smartest person in the cable news business, received nearly $24 million last year in salary, bonuses, stock grants and other benefits — almost $2 million more than Murdoch himself, according to the company's recent proxy statement.
"What makes the 69-year-old Ailes so crucial to News Corp. is the money-generating machine he has created out of Fox News, which clobbers both CNN and MSNBC in ratings," BusinessWeek reported.
Fox’s key prime-time programs like the “O’Reilly Factor” and “Hannity" – and even off-prime programs like Glenn Beck’s show – pull more viewers than CNN and MSNBC combined.
Ailes receives an annual salary of $5 million, and saw a sharp rise in his cash bonus last year due to a huge increase in the cable channel's cash flow, which cable TV analyst Derek Baine of SNL Kagan pegged at a staggering $502.6 million.
Murdoch, News Corp.'s chairman and CEO, draws an annual salary of $8.1 million, but his bonus, which is tied to the company's earnings per share, fell by more than 60 percent, to $5.4 million, "due to the negative impact of global economic conditions on the company's fiscal 2009 performance," the company said.
Murdoch's cash bonus was $17.5 million the previous year.
Ailes stands to collect a huge cache of company stock if the two-year-old Fox Business Network, which he also oversees, can break even on its cash flow, according to BusinessWeek.
Kagan said the channel had a negative cash flow of $46.9 million last year and isn't likely to break even until 2011.
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