The top five highest-earning executives at Nexstar Media Group earned nearly $50 million in cash, bonuses and stock compensation last year, according to new filings made with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) last week.
The 2023 proxy statement filed with the SEC showed Nexstar’s executive chairman and CEO, Perry Sook, had the biggest payday in 2022, earning more than $39.3 million in compensation.
The compensation package comprised of a base annual salary of $2 million followed by a $1 million cash bonus paid for meeting certain goals during 2022, the filings revealed. Sook was also awarded more than $33.3 million in stock and pulled in $3 million from a non-equity incentive plan.
The filings showed Sook needed to meet four goals in order to be paid his $1 million bonus, including a requirement that Nexstar’s broadcast and network divisions earned more than 90 percent of what was budgeted for the year (the goal didn’t include the “unbudgeted” deal that involved Nexstar acquiring majority control of the CW Network last year), and a similar revenue goal for Nexstar’s digital operations. A portion of his budget also required the approval of Nexstar’s Compensation Committee, which green lit the disbursement.
Sook’s compensation was about $18 million higher than the package he received just one year prior, the filings showed, which his cash salary increasing by more than $100,000 and the value of his stock options nearly doubling.
The package was also considerably higher than Nexstar’s next four highest-paid executives, each of whom earned between $2 million and $2.8 million for the year, most of it through company stock awards. The company’s other big earners include Chief Financial Officer Lee Ann Gilha ($2.3 million), Broadcasting President Andrew Alford ($2.4 million), Networks President Sean Compton ($2.5 million) and Distribution President Dana Zimmer ($2.7 million).
Thomas Carter, Nexstar’s chief operating officer, earned $2 million for the year. His base salary of $1 million was higher than the next four executives, but his stock options were fewer, which resulted in his compensation package being valued lower than the others.
Nexstar has already made a number of deals this year that puts it on a path toward even more business success. The company recently announced it was expanding its cable news channel NewsNation to include new hires like Elizabeth Vargas and the addition of more news programming to replace syndicated shows that carried over from WGN America. Nexstar has also inked distribution deals with streaming services YouTube TV and Hulu with Live TV for the continued carriage of its network affiliates, which also includes terms that allow the services to carry some of Nexstar’s CW-owned, MyNetwork-affiliated and independent stations for the first time.
Nexstar operates more than 200 broadcast television stations across the country, including around 120 that it owns outright. The rest are operated through shared services agreements or local marketing agreements with third party organizations that hold broadcast licenses awarded by the Federal Communications Commission, though the practice — although common in the industry — has come under fire in recent months.