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David Zaslav Signs A New Six Year Contract With Discovery Communications That Could Be Worth Up To $100 Million A Year

Following his outstanding achievements as CEO of the cable TV programming company, Zaslav has been offered a highly lucrative deal to extend his contract for an additional six years.

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David Zaslav/ Getty

David Zaslav, CEO of Discovery Communications Inc. is set to receive the awards for his efforts and placing the Discovery Channel group very much in the driving seat in the world of reality television.

And to keep Zaslav  in that seat for the foreseeable future, the board at Discovery Communications has come up with a renewed employment agreement for an additional six years designed to reward their talented CEO for doubling the number of Discovery networks around the world.

According to details of the new contract arrangement, Zaslav’s annual compensation will now be calculated according to a base salary as well as a bonus system that will see him picking up substantial stock holdings in the company if he continues to achieve the remarkable results that he has done so far.

Zaslav’s  revamped reimbursement package means that he will will receive a basic salary and employment perks amounting to around $10 million annually for the first  years of the agreement.

However if David Zaslav  continues to produce results at the same level he has achieved till now, he will be amongst the highest earning executives in the United States, bringing home even more than the close to $50 million he earned om  financial year 2012,  and the $52.4 million in 2011. In both cases, Zaslov’s remuneration was made up in cash, stock awards and other forms of  compensation.

However according to the terms of the recent contract, with the possibility of being allocated more than one million restricted stock units in Discovery Communications Inc during 2014 (dependent on making his targets), Zaslav’s compensation could almost double more than $100 million, depending on a rise in value value of Discovery shares.

According to a member of Discovery Communications Inc  board., David has done a superb job with the company since he joined the company in 2007. ” During that time David has  built a strong management team that has expanded the company’s reach and relevance, increased its market share domestically and around the world, and created a bigger, stronger portfolio of brands.” The board member summed up.

Discovery Channel logo

According to the terms of the new agreement, made public through a regulatory filing Friday with the Securities and Exchange Commission Zaslav’s base salary was set at $3 million a year for the six-year duration of the agreement, with a starting  annual bonus target of $6.6 million in 2014, scheduled to increase $600, 000 each year until 2018, and leveling off at. $9 million a year for the last few years of the contract due to come to an end in 2019.

Stock in Discovery Communications has risen in value by more than 500% since David Zaslav joined the company as CEO in 2007, and is currently valued at close to $90 per share. Income in the company have risen particularly in the last two years, growing by 19.09% from the 2010  fiscal year  to the 2012 fiscal year, from $3.77 billion to $4.49 billion, while earnings per share (EPS) grew by 70.74% in the same two years, with income is expected to increase by 18.05% over the next two years while growth in EPS has reached  an impressive average of 26.9%.

Since joining the company, Zaslav  has seen Discovery’s market capitalization grow from less than $6 billion to its present level of around $30 billion.

Currently Discovery Communications have close to 200 active networks, almost double the number of active  when David Zaslav joined the company, with Discovery Channels being distributed in more than 220 countries throughout the world, making the company the largest overseas distributor of U.S. produced television programs.

During 2013,  Zaslav led the Discovery Channel into a partnership agreement with  Oprah Winfrey to form the Oprah Winfrey Network while at the same time dramatically increasing Discovery international footprint thanks to two large-scale investments-the first being the acquisition of Scandinavian communication giant SBS Nordics who operate a wide portfolio of television and radio stations throughout across Denmark, Norway, Sweden and Finland. Discovery Communications has also acquired a 20% share in Eurosport, the Europe based  TV sports network the global coverage of more than 50 countries operating four different sports brands.

Zaslav has also found the time to mastermind the growth of Discovery Education, the company’s education division, which has now become among the largest global  providers of digital content, reaching more than 35 million students throughout the United States as well as and providing support for school systems for more than 50 countries throughout the world.

David Zaslav’s contribution to documentary television has been recognized not only in his paycheck but also by industry awards. Zaslav was  the recipient of  the Forces for Nature award  in 2009 presented by the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC). The award recognizes David’s vision and leadership in driving Discovery’s ongoing commitment to embracing “green” as a corporate value as well as for “developing the highest quality programming that celebrates the wonders of our planet for audiences around the world.”

In 2012, the UJA-Federation of New York presented David Zaslav with the  Steven J. Ross Humanitarian Award for that year. The award has been designated to honor “people of vision, energy and sustained achievement in the entertainment, media and communications industries”.


David M. Zaslav graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree from Binghamton University, later earning a Jurus Doctor  law degree from the Boston University School of Law.

Zaslav began his professional career as an attorney with the legal practice of LeBoeuf, Lamb, Lieby and MacRae in New York.

David began his career in the entertainment business when he joined NBC 1989, where he was responsible for equally dramatic developments within the company before leaving to join Discovery Communications Inc in 2007.



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