Murdoch's No. 2 is Sitting Pretty -- Top Job or No

Last Updated Aug 21, 2008 5:32 PM EDT

Rupert MurdochSuccession continues to be a big issue for News Corp. and its aging CEO Rupert Murdoch, so it's more than a little surprising to learn that Murdoch deputy Peter Chernin has negotiated himself a sweet deal in case he isn't offered the top job -- or even if he does.

Over at BNET's 10-Q Detective blog, David Phillips and Debra Fiakis found that Chernin's contract entitles him to $40 million if he's fired or leaves because he doesn't get the top job. If he turns it down, Chernin gets $29.6 million and a six-year TV and movie production agreement; in fact, he gets the production agreement whenever he leaves, for any reason whatsoever.

Then again, Chernin seems to be a pretty sharp negotiator. In the year ended June 30, Chernin pulled down the same $8.1 million salary as Murdoch -- but after options and incentives, he out-earned his boss by more than $1 million, $28.8 million to $27.6 million.

Photo of Rupert Murdoch via Wikimedia Commons

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    David Hamilton is the assistant managing editor of CNET News. He has been writing and editing business and tech coverage for about two decades -- the majority of that at the Wall Street Journal in both Tokyo and San Francisco. He is a two-time winner of the Overseas Press Club award and has written for numerous magazines and blogs, including Slate, Science, VentureBeat, CBS Interactive's BNET, California Lawyer and the New Republic.