On Tuesday, August 8, 2017, Adam Symson took the role of President/CEO at The E.W. Scripps Co., as Rich Boehne stepped aside.
He’s now guaranteed at least a 5 1/2-year tenure overseeing the owner of 60 broadcast television stations in 42 markets; the Bounce and Court TV digital multicast networks; podcast company Stitcher; and streaming measurement and tech provider Triton.
Scripps’ Board of Directors has approved a new three-year contract with Symson.
Most of Symson’s compensation increase will come through the company’s long-term incentive compensation plan through stock awards; an SEC filing outlining his salary and bonus payments under the new agreement is expected.
In addition to the contract renewal, Scripps’ board of directors removed the company’s excise tax gross-up provision for Symson, a “best practice” recommended by proxy advisory firms, the company notes.
Moreover, Scripps says that its executive pay is divided between fixed and variable income, “with a strong emphasis on variable to align management’s interests with those of shareholders.”
Ahead of Thursday’s Opening Bell on the Nasdaq Global Select market, Scripps shares were at $15.07 — smack dab in the median of prices seen across the second half of 2019.
SSP’s low came in late August, with shares dipping to nearly $12. On April 9, a $23.10 close was seen. However, a five-year review of Scripps shares suggests SSP is again heading upward after a dip — a pattern repeated since the start of 2015.
Scripps shares went ex-dividend on Dec. 12.
“Since assuming the president and CEO role in August 2017, Adam has overseen tremendous value creation and growth for Scripps,” said Boehne, who segued to Board Chairman. “We have doubled the size, reach and durability of our television station portfolio. In addition, he has made a strategic and accretive national media acquisition, executed share repurchases, introduced a dividend and delivered financial results that have met or exceeded expectations. Adam has created shareholder value while solidifying Scripps’ position as an industry leader as well as supporting the role of journalism in our democracy.”
Prior to becoming CEO in August 2017, Adam was Scripps’ COO, overseeing the company’s broadcast TV, radio and digital media divisions.
He joined Scripps in 2002 as the executive producer of investigations and special projects for KNXV-15, the Scripps-owned ABC affiliate in Phoenix. He has held a variety of roles in the television and interactive divisions before being tapped to lead digital operations in 2011.
Early career stints include roles as an investigative journalist for CBS O&O WBBM-2 in Chicago; and at KCBS-2/KCAL-9 in Los Angeles. He’s also been in that role at KNBC-4 in L.A.
The UCLA graduate began his career at Saul Levine-owned Mt. Wilson FM Broadcasters, working primarily with KGIL-AM 1260 in Beverly Hills, Calif.
Upon his ascension to CEO at Scripps, Symson was given a three-year contract.
As such, the new deal comes nine months before Symson’s current deal was sent to end in August 2020.
Symson’s current contract saw him earn an annual base salary of at least $880,000, with a “target” annual incentive opportunity of at least 95% of his annual base salary for the portion of fiscal 2017.
He was then entitled to a “target” long-term incentive program opportunity of at least $1.4 million for fiscal 2018.
Symson was also entitled to reimbursement of approved financial planning services (limited to no more than $15,000 per year), dues for one business club and the cost of an annual senior executive physical examination, as well as a one-time reimbursement of up to $20,000 of attorney’s fees incurred in connection with the negotiation of the employment agreement.