Bonus Back For Belo Chief Decherd In ’05

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By: Mark Fitzgerald

After going without any bonus in the circulation scandal year of 2004, and getting only a small bonus in 2003, Belo Corp. Chairman, President and CEO Robert W. Decherd received a cash bonus of $475,000 for 2005, the Dallas-based media company reported in a filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) Wednesday.

In the proxy statement for its May 9 annual meeting in Dallas, Belo reported Decherd was paid a regular salary of $880,000, unchanged from his 2004 salary. He was also awarded 59,500 units of “time-based restricted stock units” that vest on an accelerated basis after an employee’s retirement. Belo valued the award at $1,263,780. Belo also awarded Decherd plus stock options for 112,000 Series B shares, the shares that give Decherd and Moroney family members and others effective control of the board of directors.

Decherd and the three other most senior Belo officers received no bonus for 2004 when it was revealed that its flagship Dallas Morning News had overstated its circulation. Last week, the company won a significant legal victory related to that scandal when the U.S. District Court in Chicago granted its motion to dismiss federal securities class action lawsuits filed in 2004.

In its proxy, Belo said the compensation was based on his achievement of his 2005 financial performance target. “In particular we considered Robert’s leadership role in guiding the company in 2005 to record revenues for a non-political (campaign) year,” the proxy states. “We also considered Robert’s scope of responsibility, his past and potential contribution toward Belo’s financial performance, and his achievement of non-financial objectives for 2005. Robert spent considerable time during the year focused on leadership development and succession planning, which resulted in several key promotions and a significant senior management transition.”

The reference is to Vice Chairman John L. (Jack) Sanders, who was paid $600,000 in salary plus a cash bonus of $250,000. He was also awarded restricted stock Belo valued at $1,034,388.

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