Outlook: Sam Chisholm is unique indeed

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The Independent Online
Such are the joys of monopoly. With news of the pounds 6.8m Sam Chisholm drew last year in salary, bonuses and phantom share options, the American- style executive remuneration package seems to have arrived in Britain with a vengeance. Quite a lot of people earn this sort of money in the City, and the number of entrepreneurs taking that size of wonga out of their companies each year probably runs to the thousands these days. But for a humble chief executive running somebody else's company, this is something of a record. For someone running a business which is to all intents and purposes a monopoly, albeit a newly created one, it is completely unheard of.

So why is it that no one is going to begrudge too much Mr Chisholm his barrow load of dosh? In part it is because BSkyB is so much his own entrepreneurial creation. It may have been Rupert Murdoch who provided the original idea, the risk capital, the vision to get the enterprise off the ground and then drive through the all important merger with British Satellite Broadcasting, but it was Mr Chisholm who made it happen and turned the company into the success it is today.

Furthermore, to the extent that BSkyB has a virtual monopoly of subscription television in Britain, this is only so because it got there first and then, as all clever organisations do, defended its position vigorously with regulators and in the market. This was a franchise won, not delivered on a plate. In other words, Mr Chisholm is a special case. Some remuneration committees will no doubt try to use Mr Chisholm's earnings as a new benchmark for executive pay. They should expect the wrath of their shareholders if they do.