Demand for telecom gear and services still may be flat, but big phone executives' salaries keep rising.

SBC ( SBC) chief Ed Whitacre cashed in with a 22% bump in pay last year. He raked in $12.3 million in salary and bonuses, according to the company's proxy filing Thursday. Whitacre's cash booty didn't include stock awards worth $7.2 million.

The handsome payday comes even as SBC shares continue to sink. SBC's share price fell 4% in 2003, though that was a sizable improvement from its 32% drop in 2002.

In 2002, Whitacre made due with a mere $10.1 million in pay and bonuses. Whitacre also received no stock option awards in 2002.

Big executive payouts are looking like a trend across the sector in 2003, as companies make pay disclosures with the Securities and Exchange Commission. On Monday, Corning ( GLW) filed a proxy detailing that Chairman and CEO Jim Houghton received more than $3 million in cash plus options worth $11 million last year.

In addition to pay data, the SBC proxy includes two shareholder proposals. The first would require SBC to report all political contributions made with company money. The second proposal asks that the company reduce its board to 14 directors from 21. According to the petitioner, the average director count among the S&P 500 is 11.

SBC opposes both proposals.

As originally published, this story contained an error. Please see Corrections and Clarifications.

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