London - Arabstoday
Rupert Murdoch the chairman and chief executive of News Corporation, received a $12.5m (£7.7m) cash bonus for the last financial year, while his total remuneration rose 47% to $33m, according to the company's annual statement to shareholders.
His son James Murdoch – who is deputy chief operating officer, with responsibility for News Corp's business in Europe and Asia – was awarded a $6m cash bonus as part of an $18m pay package – a 74% rise on his 2010 take-home pay.
But in a statement on Friday night, James Murdoch said he would not be taking the bonus in "light of the current controversy" over phone hacking at the News of the World. "I feel that declining the bonus is the right thing to do," he said.
The bonuses were for the year to the end of June, during which time News Corp became mired in the phone-hacking scandal that engulfed the News of the World. The affair only escalated into a full-blown corporate crisis – with the closure of the News of the World and several executive resignations – in July, shortly after the end of News Corp's financial year.
Chase Carey, News Corp's chief operating officer and Murdoch's right-hand man, took home $30m in the year to 30 June, including a $10m bonus. Roger Ailes, who runs Fox News, received a slight increase in total compensation in 2011, up to $15.5m from $13.9m in 2010. Ailes received a $1.5m cash bonus.
The Murdochs' remuneration was revealed in their report to shareholders. Elisabeth Murdoch, the chief executive of TV production company Shine, received a salary of $1.7m from News Corp last year, the report shows. She received $214m in cash after News Corp bought Shine earlier this year.
Rupert's eldest son, Lachlan – who is acting chief executive of the Australian TV firm Ten Network – took home a total of $504,000 in 2011 for his work on the News Corp board.
Charlotte Harris, the solicitor who represents several phone-hacking claimants, said: "The bonuses are not very humble given recent events."
She was referring to a comment by Rupert Murdoch, who told MPs on the Commons culture, media and sport select committee when he appeared before them in July that it was "the most humble day of my life".
News Corp also announced on Friday that two of its longest-serving directors were to leave. Ken Cowley, a trusted lieutenant for more than 50 years, will leave the News Corp board of directors he joined in 1979 when Murdoch established the global holding company for his media businesses.
Thomas Perkins, a partner of investment firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers and member of the News Corp board since 1996, will also step down after the annual meeting next month. Jim Breyer, a Silicon Valley venture capitalist and one of the first investors in Facebook, will join the News Corp board in October.