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Discovery Legal Chief Gets 38% Raise After WarnerMedia Deal

March 17, 2022, 7:29 PM

Discovery Inc.‘s top lawyer received a more than 38% pay increase last year for his navigation of the company’s WarnerMedia LLC purchase through regulatory hurdles.

Bruce Campbell was the “principal negotiator” and oversaw a “regulatory approval process which spanned numerous U.S. government agencies and dozens of international markets,” the company said in a proxy that disclosed his $12.6 million pay package.

His base salary increased 2% on July 1 to more than $1.9 million, and he received more than $4.9 million in stock and options awards, said the proxy filed this week. Discovery also gave him $5.7 million in non-equity incentive plan compensation.

Discovery’s $43 billion pending purchase of WarnerMedia from AT&T Inc., announced last year, is poised to be completed in the second quarter after U.S. antitrust regulators declined to challenge the combination last month.

The deal, which saw Debevoise & Plimpton advise Discovery, started with a text about golf from Discovery Chief Executive Officer David Zaslav to his counterpart at AT&T, according to Bloomberg News.

Campbell didn’t respond to a request for comment.

Zaslav Pay

Zaslav—long one of the highest-paid public company leaders—received $246.6 million in total compensation last year, according to Bloomberg News.

Campbell, who reports directly to Zaslav, had his base salary increased thanks to a recommendation from the CEO to the compensation committee of Discovery’s board of directors, per the proxy filing.

The company said the $5.7 million in non-equity incentive plan compensation for Campbell was above target and reflected his “outstanding individual performance” to help Discovery during the coronavirus pandemic, work on the launch of its streaming platform, and “prepare for a successful closing of the WarnerMedia transaction.”

Discovery also cited his “tremendous leadership” handling the WarnerMedia deal. The acquisition will see the company absorb several new television networks, including TBS, HBO, and cable news giant CNN.

Campbell, who holds the title of chief development, distribution, and legal officer, earned roughly $9.1 million in both 2019 and 2020, securities filings show.

Bloomberg data reveals that Campbell currently owns Discovery stock with a market valuation of roughly $13 million. He sold off more than $32 million in company stock last year, according to securities filings.

Dealmaking Ties

Discovery tapped Campbell to take over its top legal role in 2010. He previously served as president of digital media and corporate development for the company, which hired him in 2007 from what was then NBC Universal Inc.

Campbell spent a decade in legal and business development roles at NBC Universal after working in private practice at O’Melveny & Myers.

It was at NBC Universal where Campbell met Zaslav, a media mogul who spent nearly two decades at that company after starting his career as an associate at a predecessor to now-defunct Dewey & LeBoeuf.

Zaslav joined Discovery as its CEO in 2007. He and Campbell have worked together for more than 20 years, according to a profile of Campbell in December by media trade publication Variety.

Discovery’s merger with WarnerMedia, whose general counsel is James Meza, will see it absorb a legal group that has already gone through significant changes in recent years following AT&T’s $85 billion acquisition of legacy company Time Warner Inc.

That union is now effectively being unwound through a tax-advantaged transaction that will create a new company called Warner Bros. Discovery.

Discovery, which in 2019 relocated its headquarters to New York from Silver Spring, Md., has watched several in-house lawyers leave its ranks within the past year.

Stacey Lager, a vice president of business and legal affairs for digital, departed in August to become the first-ever general counsel for Splice.com, a New York-based, artificial intelligence-driven software startup for music producers that secured $55 million in financing last year.

Discovery also saw former senior vice president of legal and corporate secretary Stephanie Marks join EchoStar Corp. last year as an associate general counsel, while Discovery Studios vice president of business and legal affairs Janell Coles-English took a similar role at Wheelhouse LLC, an entertainment and production company.

To contact the reporter on this story: Brian Baxter in New York at bbaxter@bloomberglaw.com

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Chris Opfer at copfer@bloomberglaw.com; John Hughes at jhughes@bloombergindustry.com