Viacom Shareholders Get Advisory Vote on Executive Compensation

At the company's annual meeting, management once again touted hit shows and films and promised "even brighter days ahead."

NEW YORK - Viacom shareholders will get to approve, purely on an advisory basis, the compensation of key executives of the entertainment company, including executive chairman Sumner Redstone and president and CEO Philippe Dauman, starting this year.

Shareholders approved a resolution on the advisory votes, which will be held every three years, at the company's annual meeting here on Wednesday. The first such vote will happen later this year, according to a spokeswoman.

An increasing number of U.S. corporations have voted on such resolutions amid criticism of the high compensation packages of CEOs and other top executives. But analysts have said they will for now have no major impact on companies beyond attracting added attention to executive pay and giving shareholders a limited say.

Viacom's annual shareholder meeting at the firm's headquarters in Times Square was attended by about 100 people - including shareholders, board members and Viacom employees - and lasted only about 45 minutes.

It also approved all board nominees, including vice chair Shari Redstone and COO Tom Dooley who were in attendance. Dauman also lauded Paramount Pictures head Brad Grey and MTV Networks head Judy McGrath who weren't in attendance, among other top executives. He also lauded BET Networks chairman and CEO Debra Lee and her team for having brought ratings records to BET thanks to original content efforts.

Shareholder questions did not focus on any controversial issues, but on such things as the growth of online video distributors and state film incentives.

"Where we have a choice, we look to get the greatest tax benefits," Dauman said when asked whether Viacom was taking advantage of such incentives. But he emphasized that location choices and access to good industry workers also play key roles in decisions on where to shoot movies or TV shows.

Dauman also reiterated that online video distributors provide an opportunity for additional revenue for content owners.

He also got a couple of movie questions. Asked about Mission: Impossible 4, Dauman promised "great stunts," but didn't provide any updates. Asked if Grey may look at making a movie based on former TV hit Alf, in which Grey's former employer Brillstein-Grey Entertainment was involved, Dauman said: "I don't know."

Redstone on Wednesday once again touted the "growing number of hits" on Viacom networks and the success of its studio and promised
"even brighter days ahead."

He introduced "the genius" Philippe Dauman who echoed Redstone's message that "our best days are yet to come."

"We continue to invest in our content pipeline," Dauman said, highlighting that last year Viacom's content investment was 25 percent higher than when he became CEO in 2006. He emphasized that content successes have been broad-based at the company - from Paramount's Transformers and Star Trek to MTV's Jersey Shore and Teen Mom and a range of hits on BET, including The Game.

A video package then showed off Viacom's hit content. It included scenes from Jersey Shore and Rango, among many others.