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While Shares Fell, Viacom Paid Three $160 Million

The top three executives at Viacom Inc. received total compensation last year valued at about $52 million to $56 million each in salary, bonus and stock options, the company disclosed yesterday.

The three officers - the chief executive, Sumner M. Redstone, and the co-presidents, Tom Freston and Leslie Moonves - received a total of $160 million. Viacom filed documents disclosing the compensation with the Securities and Exchange Commission yesterday, after the market closed.

"The compensation is beyond breathtaking, and it dwarfs what their competitors are earning," a longtime compensation specialist, Brian Foley, said.

"If any one of the men had gotten that payment as chief executive, it would still have been a story, but the fact that all three got it is amazing."

A Viacom spokesman, Carl Folta, said the overall compensation was "based on the operating performance of the company, and that was excellent in 2004." While Viacom's share price declined 18 percent last year, Mr. Folta said the compensation "was not based on the stock price."

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