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August 6, 2020

Executive Compensation at PBS

by Anne Paddock

PBS (Public Broadcasting System) is a non-profit, tax-exempt 501 (c) (3) television program distributer and broadcaster of educational television content (about 1,500 hours in 2018) through its 153 member public television licensees.

In 2018, PBS reported total revenue of $539 million. However, $178 million were non-cash contributions of donated broadcast rights which means total cash revenue was $361 million, most of which came from membership dues and contributions, gifts, and grants.

Total expenses were $495 million. However, $178 million were donated broadcast rights and $136 million was depreciation, meaning cash expenses were $181 million (50% of cash revenue), with the largest expense ($76  million or 21% of cash revenue) being compensation for the 591 employees, who received an average compensation of $129,000.  However, only 225 employees (about 40%) received more than $100,000 in compensation. The 15 most highly compensated employees were:

  • $1,014,416:  Paula A Kerger, President and CEO
  • $  639.095:  Jonathan Barzilay, COO
  • $  617,700:  Barbara L Landes, CFO and Treasurer (term 12/31/16)
  • $  511,802:  Ira Rubenstein, Chief Digital Officer
  • $  500,225:  Beth C Hoppe, Chief Programming Executive
  • $  494,823:  Mario P Vecchi, Chief Technology Officer
  • $  488,603:  Katherine S Lauderdale, Chief Legal Officer, Corporate Secretary
  • $  474,697:  Lesli J Rotenberg, SVP and GM Children’s Media, MK
  • $  438,963:  Thomas E Tardivo, CFO, Treasurer
  • $  434,764:  Juan A Sepulveda Jr, SVP, System Leader (term 11/30/17)
  • $  374,929:  Jaymes S Swain, SVP, Strategy and Operations,
  • $  362,177:  Michael D Kelley, SVP, Program, Content, Services, and Business
  • $  316,281:  Craig A Sperling, VP, Deputy General Counsel
  • $  314,965:  Carole Dickert-Scherr, VP, HR (term 9/23/16)
  • $  226,990:  Mary Plantamura, Assistant Corp Secretary, Associate General Counsel

“Term” appears to refer to “termination.”

The 15 most highly compensated employees received $7.2 million in compensation.  If these employees and their respective compensation were excluded from the total numbers, then 576 employees were compensated approximately $69 million, which equates to an average compensation of $120,000.

8 of the 15 most highly compensated employees are male while 7 are female.

PBS provided a housing allowance or a residence for personal use. Specifically, PBS paid for temporary housing and transportation for two executives. No additional detail is provided.

PBS provided tax indemnification and/or gross up payments. Specifically, PBS grossed up payments for certain taxable benefits provided to certain executives. No additional detail is provided.

95 independent contractors received more than $100,000 in compensation. The five (5) most highly compensated were:

  • $11,013,917:  Mullenlowe Mediahub, US of Philadelphia, PA for paid advertising
  • $ 3,272,429:  Three Pillar Global, Inc. of Fairfax, VA for software development
  • $ 2,847,286:  Interface Media Group, Inc of Washington, DC for promotion, production
  • $ 2,722,482:  Amazon Web Services, Inc. of Portland, OR for content distribution network
  • $ 2,644,453:  Neilson Media Research of New York, NY for audience analytics

At year-end, PBS had nearly $400 million in net assets, or fund balances. The bottom line is PBS brings in a lot of revenue, only spends about half while still compensating their employees well. In addition, the sizable balance in net assets ($400 million) is significant.

To read the IRS Form 990 (2017 for the year ending June 30, 2018), click here.

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