Comcast CEO paid $30m last year – now you know why you pay $200 a month

Anyone want to take a guess why their Comcast cable and internet costs nearly $200 a month, even though they don’t buy any premium channels? Ka-ching! The fact that Comcast CEO Brian Roberts makes $29.1 million a year certainly doesn’t appear to help.

Unfortunately, it’s not just Comcast that pays their CEO the equivalent of Wall Street wages. Competitor Time Warner paid over $25 million for their CEO, and Walt Disney over $40 million.  It’s good to be mouse.

Comcast CEO Brian Roberts.

Comcast CEO Brian Roberts.

As I’ve said many times before, US consumers receive some of the slowest, yet most expensive, Internet services in the industrialized world. Somehow, despite supposedly winning the Cold War by promoting competition, competition is a dirty word these days in the US in a lot of industries, beyond just Internet and television – there’s cell phones, for starters (mine in France offers far more than yours in America – it’s the same one John wrote about – and I pay only $25 month on my iPhone (John pays $90 a month with Verizon for his iPhone, and that’s the cheapest plan).

There’s something dramatically wrong when the tech powerhouse leader of the world delivers a sub-standard product, at prices that make “socialist France” blush.

Oh but it goes far beyond Wall Street and tech companies.  Remember the former Hostess Twinkies CEO who tripled his salary to $2.5m while preparing to file bankruptcy, and the Hostess management that got $1.8m in bonuses while cutting employee pay by 8%?  That one brought a tear to my eye.

Or the time taxpayers had to pay $3.5m to the Lockheed CEO was fired before he even took the job?  I mean, these guys make millions doing nothing.  Or the Royal Bank of Scotland chairman who thought an $11m annual salary was “modest,” even after the company had to be bailed out.

Of course, none of that can top one of our favorite CEOs, GOPer Meg Whitman, who took a salary “cut” at HP, and “only” got $15m because she had a bad year.  I’d like a bad year like that.

Carly Fiorina

Carly Fiorina in São Paulo, Brazil. Photo: Antônio Milena/ABr.

Then there’s Meg’s close competition in the failed-CEO-done-good category, another GOPer former HP CEO, Carly Fiorina.  Carly, you see, won the title “19th worst CEO of all time,” but she still got a $40m retirement package, $20m of which she “forgot” she had.  Of course, that didn’t stop Carly from claiming that union pensions were too high.  I’m gonna go on a limb here and suggest that none of them retired with $40m for doing a lousy job.

(I’d also like to know why the US Senate Chaplain makes $150,000 a year, and more importantly, why the US Senate has a chaplain.)

Then there’s Credit Suisse, whose profits plummeted 24%, had to cut 2,300 jobs, but still was able to give its CEO and chairman 33% raises.

But before I sign off, I’d be remiss when discussing pampered businesses if I didn’t say a word about Big Pharma. You might recall that they’re one of the reasons we didn’t get a public option in health care reform.  But we coddle Big Pharma and their big profits lots of other ways too, such as not letting Medicare negotiate with them for lower prices, like Big Pharma does in every other country, especially in Europe.

We also don’t let Americans bring in cheaper drugs from other countries – well, we let them bring a couple-month’s worth, that’s it, lest we hurt Big Pharma’s deep pockets.

As John has written about extensively, a lot of popular prescription drugs like Advair, a lead asthma drug, go for four and five times as much in the states as compared to France – and it’s the same drug made and sold by the same company.  Why?  Because the French government negotiates for prices, and the US government doesn’t – because our freedom-luvin’ politicians think it would be un-Amurikan to treat Big Pharma like a business and actually negotiate with them.  No, it takes the “socialist” French to treat Big Pharma like capitalists.  And Big Pharma reaps the rewards, while you pay exorbitant prices for both prescription drugs and health insurance, when you don’t have to.

I’m proud to be an American, cuz at least I know I’m gouged.

But hey, on behalf of all us socialists here in France, we sincerely thank America for subsidizing our commie health care.


An American in Paris, France. BA in History & Political Science from Ohio State. Provided consulting services to US software startups, launching new business overseas that have both IPO’d and sold to well-known global software companies. Currently launching a new cloud-based startup. Full bio here.

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  • poppyseed

    everyone hates on the guys providing internet access. Comcast has a huge overhead cost just to run a cable to your house. If you wanna talk about extortion and overpriced items, microsoft comes to my mind. What is Brian Roberts 28 million to Bill Gates billions?

  • http://twitter.com/StevenSaidWhat Steven

    I ditched Comcast for DirecTV (at which point my Comcast Internet went up by $20 or so) and then ditched DirecTV for Hulu Plus and Netflix, both of which cost me a total of $15.98 a month. I get to see most of the shows I like the day after broadcast, and catch up on full seasons on shows I discover (why hadn’t anyone told me how amazing ‘The Shield’ is???). But my stand-alone Internet is almost $70 a month, which is highway robbery. But we have no choice in the matter, and I’m surprised this wouldn’t be considered a winning issue for a candidate. But that would mean beating back the corporate assault that would inevitably ensue, so I don’t guess it will happen anytime soon.

    Anyway, it is true that ESPN/sporting channels are a huge portion of monthly cable bills and will continue to be so, because they know that the American male is not going to give up his sports. That’s another reason I cut the cord. It’s bad enough we’re expected to subsidize stadiums for billion-dollar franchises. I’m not going to give them even more money for something I don’t give a shit about.

  • Sweetie

    “The pay may be obscene, but it has nothing to do with Comcast subscription rates.”

    That statement is incorrect. The CEO pay is part of a culture of exploitation.

  • http://www.facebook.com/crucifixion.cruxi Crucifixion Cruxi

    Can’t wait for Google Fiber!

  • Dano2

    CEO pay and sports channels. That’s why it is so expensive.

    Best.

    D

  • http://twitter.com/JafafaHots Jafafa Hots

    I pay $128 a month for comcast internet and phone, and NO TV. None. No channels. Zero.

    Who ever is paying 200 lives in a different town than you,. Or are you under the impression that there is choice? Or that you can negotiate price? Or that Comcast doesn’t gouge whatever they can based on the local situation?

    (in my case the only alternative I have is AT&T DSL, which costs almost $100 a month and is often slower in my town than dialup.)

  • hauksdottir

    I’ve never owned a television.

    I can keep up with news of importance to me and watch DVDs on my computer, and read real books. For $200/mo a person could buy a LOT of books! or DVDs. And OWN them.

  • Sweetie

    And they keep on building LRADs.

  • ComradeRutherford

    Actually, ESPN is one of the biggest drivers of high pay-tv bills. THey are the reason why we will never have a-la-carte channel choices. In my region ESPN alone takes between 5 – 10 dollars of every cable bill. But then local Public Access channel also takes almost $5.

    Given the choice, I’d rather see my local Select Board meetings and high school basketball than CNN and ESPN. I am happy to pay $5 a month for public access…

  • olandp

    That is one of the reasons that I don’t have television service. My TV hasn’t even been plugged in since I moved last August. I need to get around to that one of these days.

  • Naja pallida

    And what would the guy in France, paying $50 a month for the same services, call you? :)

  • UncleBucky

    Hmph. Whether it be Comcast, U-verse, DishTV, DirectTV, none of the offerings seem robust. Oh, sure, sports, sex shows, how-to shows, reality shows, movies, etc. are in the lineup. But there is so much “junk-DNA” channels, many with more commercials than content, and several that are simply buying sites.

    I have seen this at my sister’s house, and at the houses of friends who are still too hypnotized by cable or satellite ads (they gots a lot of money to put all those ads on TV, no?)

    I paid 40 bucks for over the air converters. I still use my CRT TVs (maybe they use more power). I stream some movies. I buy used DVDs. I listen to the radio.

    But I won’t ever purchase cable or satellite service.

  • perljammer

    You’re barking up the wrong tree with your headline. Comcast has somewhere in the neighborhood of 23 million subscribers. If you cut the CEO’s pay to $0, that would reflect as a per-subscriber savings of $1.03 per year, or about 8-1/2 cents per month. The pay may be obscene, but it has nothing to do with Comcast subscription rates.

  • keirmeister

    I love/hate this topic on Americablog. It’s so important to hear/read about this as often as possible, but the very concept of this imbalance makes me FURIOUS! And sometimes it feels like no matter how many phone calls I make, visits to local offices (or even the Hart Building), and general activism we all do…it just doesn’t matter.

    But we keep on fighting.

  • http://www.facebook.com/elijah.shalis Elijah Shalis

    I pay $106 a month for comcast for internet phone and tv. Who ever is paying 200 is an idiot.

  • lynchie

    America is #1 at gouging the poor and elderly. It’s what makes us proud and strong. By the way good short and sweet article Chris.

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