Shares in Insight Communications ( ICCI) had the worst performance of all U.S. cable stocks last year. But that didn't put a damper on executive salaries at the cable operator.CEO Michael Willner received a total of $852,900 in salary and bonus in 2003, up 18% from 2002, Insight reported in a Securities and Exchange Commission filing Friday. Willner also received a raft of restricted stock that, at the time it was granted, was worth an additional $328,000 per year over five years. Such generosity to Willner -- who co-founded Insight and owns 8.2% of its voting shares -- comes despite Insight's dismal performance relative to other publicly traded cable operators. Insight's shares fell 18%. The only other operator to have a down year, Mediacom ( MCCC), fell just 2%. All of the other non-bankrupt cable stocks, such as Comcast ( CMCSA) and Cablevision ( CVC), were up in the range of 21% to 40%, while Charter's ( CHTR) stock, emerging from a near-bankruptcy experience, more than tripled. The discrepancy between Willner's salary and Insight's stock reflects the difficulty of matching a stock's performance to executive compensation. It also points to the broad leeway a company's board has to pay executives as it sees fit. The stock's decline likely reflects increasing concern about the company's vulnerability to competition from satellite TV services. But Insight's financial performance improved from 2002 to 2003. Shares in Insight were trading at $10.03 Monday, down 3% from their 2003 year-end close. Willner's 2003 compensation comprises a base salary of $577,900, up 3% from the prior year, and a bonus of $275,000, up from $165,000. Willner, who received 100,000 Insight stock options in 2002, received 170,000 shares of restricted stock in 2003. Those shares -- worth $1.6 million when granted and deliverable upon the termination of Willner's employment -- vest over five years, with the first portion vesting in November 2004.