Lee Enterprises lifts exec wage freeze; Sunday QC Times paid circulation off 10 percent in 2012

After a three-year freeze on executive compensation because of "continuing difficult economic conditions affecting the company," Lee Enterprises' President and Chief Executive Officer Mary E. Junck received an 11 percent salary increase to $900,000 in 2012, plus stock awards and cash incentives of more than $1.1 million.

The pay package, outlined in Lee's proxy statement sent shareholders in advance of the company's annual meeting February 20, shows Junck's total compensation last year of $2.1 million, including the $900,000 in salary, $655,000 in stock awards, a $500,000 cash incentive award and $38,267 in company contributions to her retirement account. That compares with total compensation of $1.15 million ($809,135 in salary, $329,654 in stock options and $11,933 in retirement contributions) in 2011.

Junck also was due a $56,250 bonus in 2012 based on achievement of operating cash flow measures, but she declined to accept the bonus and asked the executive compensation committee of the board to permit it to be added to the bonus pool for key employees other than the executive officer group.

Her overall compensation remains well below what she was paid in 2007 when she received $3.8 million in salary, stock awards, stock options and cash incentives.

Lee's Vice President and Chief Financial Officer Carl Schmidt received a nearly $300,000 increase in overall compensation in 2012 to $905,969.

"In 2012, the company continued to drive strong digital revenue growth, control costs, transform its business and rapidly pay down debt," according to the proxy statement outlining reasons for the compensation awards.

For fiscal 2012, which ended last Sept. 30, Lee reported a loss of $16.7 million, or 34 cents per share. In November, Lee amended its fourth quarter earnings showing a $21.2-million loss, or 43 cents per share, because the company's income tax expense was overstated by $4.6 million.

Lee's annual report also reported paid circulation figures for its newspapers, including the Quad City Times, Davenport.

For the Times, average circulation of its Sunday paper fell 10 percent to 53,528 and its daily (Monday through Friday average) declined 8 percent to 41,705.

In its 11 largest markets, Lee's audience data shows its print audience was 38 percent of all adults, down from 50 percent in 2008.

More than 9 percent of all adults in those same markets used its digital product only, according to the company. That's up from less than 6 percent in 2008.

Nearly 20 percent of all adults in Lee's top 11 markets used both its print and digital products, according to the company statistics, up from 17 percent in 2008.

According to Lee's audience reach comparison, total readership was 67 percent of all adults in those markets, down only slightly from 73 percent four years ago.

CLICK HERE to download the complete 2012 Lee Enterprises annual report (10K) filing.

CLICK HERE to download the Lee Enterprises annual meeting proxy with executive compensation tables.

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