Survey: Cable Pay Holds Steady

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Despite "great pressure in terms of financial scrutiny, growth, mergers and acquisitions," cable-company pay practices stayed essentially the same in 2002 as in 2001, the Cable & Telecommunications Human Resources Association said last week.

"In spite of what we see in the economy, salary numbers didn't change much from last year to this year, and probably won't change much in 2003, both for cable operators and programmers," said association president Jack Jackson, the vice president of administration and human resources at C-SPAN.

CTHRA used consulting firm The Croner Co. to examine 234 positions for this year's study. It surveyed 90 cable programmers and 14 MSOs, including nine of the top 10 operators. The data covers positions that represent more than 65,800 employees.

The survey found that merit raises at MSOs dipped about 1 percent from last year, and that the most highly compensated employees were those in posts related to high-speed Internet access.

Among programmers and MSOs, this year's bonuses were at about 80 percent of targeted salary budget projections, both of which were down from last year. Bonuses paid in 2001 were approximately 105 percent and 95 percent of targeted salary budgets for MSOs and programmers, respectively.

This study was the first to address operator and programmer employees who deal with such advanced services as video-on-demand, interactive television and Internet access.

Also, due to a request from survey users, pay trends for cable-network creative talent were covered, said Jackson. The survey found that producers of long-form material (miniseries and made-for-cable films) earn salaries that are 10 percent to 30 percent higher than series segment producers.

The survey did not tackle employee benefits. Previously, CTHRA has conducted separate studies on the subject, the last one released in 2000.

The association expects another benefits report in 2003 or 2004. "That arena doesn't change dramatically from year to year," Jackson explained.

PAR Initiative

The Women in Cable & Telecommunications Foundation has launched its PAR Initiative, an advocacy drive designed in part to help cable companies achieve pay equity at all workforce levels.

The WICT Foundation is collaborating with Working Mother Media on the project, which will conduct research on pay equity and compensation early next year. Jackson said the CTHRA will support PAR, with details to be determined later.

Compensation survey results will be the subject of a special CTHRA-assembled "Ask the Experts" session Dec. 5 at the Western Show in Anaheim, Calif. Other human-resources issues will also be discussed there.

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