Comcast committed $500 million to support its workers during the coronavirus crisis, and the company’s top executives will donate their salaries to charities supporting COVID-19 relief efforts.
In an email to employees, Comcast chairman and CEO Brian Roberts said Wednesday that the $500 million would provide continued pay and benefits to employees where operations have stalled or been harmed by the coronavirus pandemic.
The Philadelphia media giant, which has 190,000 employees worldwide, was forced to shut down theme parks, delay movie releases, and suspend content production because of the outbreak. It must also wait a year to broadcast the Olympic games in Tokyo, which were set to give the company more than $1.25 billion in advertising revenue.
Roberts, CFO Mike Cavanagh, Comcast Cable CEO David Watson, NBCUniversal CEO Jeff Shell, and Jeremy Darroch, the CEO of the Sky European pay TV service, will donate their salaries “for the duration of this situation,” the memo said. The memo did not say which charities would receive the donations.
“We hope in some small way we can make this time easier on our employees, our local communities and our customers,” Roberts wrote.
Comcast did not say how many employees would benefit from the $500 million Employee Disaster Assistance Fund.
Roberts earned a salary of nearly $3.2 million in 2018, according to the most recent compensation disclosure. Cavanagh collected almost $2 million that year, while Watson made more than $1.5 million. Shell, who was diagnosed with COVID-19 last week, replaced former NBCUniversal head Stephen Burke, who made nearly $3 million.
When including other compensation, such as stock options and bonuses, Roberts made $35 million in 2018. Cavanagh earned $21.7 million, Watson made $14.7 million, and Burke raked in nearly $40 million that year.
Separately, with more people working and studying from home due to the coronavirus outbreak, Comcast is giving customers unlimited data for no additional charge and making its vast network of Xfinity WiFi hot spots free for everyone. The company has also pledged that it won’t disconnect service or impose late fees if customers can’t pay their bills during the pandemic.
Last week, Roberts’ family gave $5 million to help pay for 50,000 Chromebooks for students in the Philadelphia School District.