November-December 2010 

Industry Benchmarks for Benefits Coming in April 2011
Companies are encouraged to participate in this ground-breaking CTHRA survey which will be conducted by Willis.

Industry Compensation Trends
Pay freezes are down, incentives are up, and other interesting findings from CTHRA’s 2010 Compensation Surveys.

How to Jump-Start a Stalled Career
HR leaders share strategies for success.


CTHRA’s Board Election Results

19 New Members Have Joined CTHRA

2011 CTHRA Benefits Survey

Companies are likely to dub 2011 as the most challenging benefits planning cycle to date as increasing costs, looming healthcare reform, higher taxes, and increasing federal regulation add to the complexity of the situation. Consequently, there is a widespread need among employers for industry-specific benchmarks.

“Current data about benefit levels, costs and contributions typically are general in nature and are not released until August or later. As a result, CTHRA’s Benefits Survey will provide industry-specific benchmarks earlier in the planning cycle to assist companies in their assessments and strategic decision making,” explained Pamela Williams, CAE, CTHRA’s executive director.

To ensure the survey meets employers’ needs, CTHRA established a benefits survey advisory committee of six content providers and multiple system operators (MSOs). Led by Ted Stewart, SVP of Total Rewards/Human Resources for Discovery Communications, the committee defined the survey’s scope to include total and net medical cost per employee and covered employee, costs as a percentage of salary, contribution levels, Relative Benefit Values (RBV), plan features such as co-pay levels, deductibles, and co-insurance for each major medical offering. While much of CTHRA’s survey will focus on medical plans, data will also be collected for life insurance, disability insurance, dental insurance, and retirement plans.

Committee input also resulted in an affordable price point, a structure that allows participants to complete the survey in generally less than two hours, and results that will be broken down into two categories: content providers and MSOs. Data collection will begin this month and survey results will be released to participants in April 2011.

CTHRA’s Benefits Survey will be conducted by Willis, one of the world's largest insurance brokerage firms. Companies interested in participating should visit

Industry Trends Impact 2010 Pay Practices

While the recession has impacted pay practices across all industries, two unique factors have played a significant role within the cable and telecommunications industry: the ongoing rapid change in technology and the proliferation of online television. According to findings in CTHRA’s 2010 Annual Compensation Surveys these two environmental forces have led to the birth of new, highly sophisticated technical positions and fueled competition to secure the talent needed to fill them. In addition, CTHRA’s compensation analysis determined that base pay remained stable, fewer employers froze salaries, and incentives increased dramatically over last year.

CTHRA’s survey data was separated into two participant categories: multiple system operators (MSOs) and programmers (cable and broadcast networks).

Proliferation of Technology Positions
In December of each year, CTHRA’s survey participants convene to discuss the positions the following year’s survey will include. Some positions are phased out as they become obsolete, while others are added as business operations and technology evolve. The scope of CTHRA’s 2010 Compensation Surveys reflected MSOs’ focus on Internet, cellular and ground telephony service and original content development, and programmers’ efforts in online content delivery.

Base Pay Stabilized
CTHRA’s analysis determined that 2010 salary adjustment budgets dropped slightly from 2009 for MSOs and remained unchanged for content providers (see Diagram 1). None of the MSOs froze salary adjustment budgets in 2010, compared to 18 percent in 2009, and only 7 percent of programmers froze budgets in 2010, down from 24 percent in 2009.

Diagram 1

Incentives Increased Dramatically
Incentives are a common component of compensation practices within the industry. Among CTHRA’s survey respondents, 69 percent of the MSOs and 80 percent of the programmers offer long-term incentives (LTI) such as stock options, shares and long-term cash that are linked to a company’s financial performance. Ninety-four (94) percent of the MSOs and 93 percent of the content providers offer short-term incentives (STI) such as bonus rewards. Unlike base pay which was stable, survey respondents who offer LTI and STI reported significant increases over last year (see Diagrams 2 and 3).

Diagram 2

Diagram 3

Survey Participation and Methodology
CTHRA’s 2010 Compensation Surveys were conducted by The Croner Company, a leading compensation consulting firm specializing in compensation plan design, compensation surveys and organizational design. Comprehensive data was submitted by 66 employers in March 2010, thus reflecting 2010 budgets and base compensation data. The participating companies reported data for 138,000 jobs, including both exempt and nonexempt positions ranging from technicians to top executives.

If you’re interested in participating in CTHRA’s 2011 Compensation Survey,
please contact The Croner Company at 415.485.5530.



How To Jump-Start a Stalled Career

Does it seem as though your once-promising career has come to a grinding halt? If so, you’re not alone. Many talented people reach periods when they seem stuck, like a car in a roadside ditch, while plum promotions and career-advancing assignments pass them by. The good news is that there are plenty of ways to get out of a rut and back on the road to success.

Wake Up!
If work advancements aren’t coming your way as they used to do, it’s unlikely you unwittingly committed some professional faux pas that has sabotaged your career. More likely, the reason is that you’ve simply stopped seeing—and reaching for—opportunities that are around you. In the words of Rosalind Carter, senior vice president of human resources for A&E Television Networks (AETN), “People often become comfortable and confident, even complacent. It is important to evaluate and refresh how you present yourself. Try to be that individual who is constantly in touch with business challenges while exploring and offering solutions and using new technology, processes and approaches.  Don’t rest on your prior successes.  Make sure you have done something of note recently, rather than simply getting the job done.”

Once you’ve realized that your lack of movement stems not from anything you’ve done, but potentially what you haven’t done, Carter advises it’s time for the next step: “Tap internal resources to learn more about career paths and ask for a perspective on what may be needed in order to be seen as a competitive candidate for the position. Look at criteria listed for jobs posted both internally and externally and determine how your experience compares.”

Get the Show on the Road
Putting yourself on the fast track for a promotion may simply be a matter of showcasing your skills and abilities in a new light. Lisa Kaye, president and CEO of greenlightjobs, cites some examples, “Take the initiative on projects, volunteer for new work groups, spearhead new corporate initiatives, find a way to innovate and make the company money, align yourself with high-achievers in the organization. Above all, don’t be afraid to stand out.”

To really kick your career into high gear, look for a chance to relocate or take a temporary assignment, perhaps overseas, in the field, or with a vendor. As was noted in a recent CTHRA article, many companies are expanding internationally (click here to read that article), thus increasing opportunities to gain experience outside of the country. While it may be inconvenient or may not result in an increase in earnings in the short term, the payoff can be significant. William J.T. Strahan, senior vice president of human resources for Comcast Cable, shares this insight, “In the long term, you will be the person who is different, who has the unique experience, who answered duty’s call when the company needed you. During tough times like these, there are always business units that need fixing. Be the first to volunteer and know that you’re building good career karma.”

Examine and Conquer
Sometimes, advancing a lagging career is not as simple as throwing off complacency and leaping into the spotlight. It may take what AETN’s Carter calls a full self-evaluation. She encourages career climbers to ask themselves these questions: Do I have the requisite knowledge, skills and abilities for the next step?  Do I have or am I developing the necessary support system?  

A network will not only alert you to new opportunities, but also help you evaluate the appropriateness of your experience and provide recommendations. If you find that you lack some of the skills or knowledge necessary for the next rung on your career ladder, do everything you can, formally and informally, to acquire them. That may entail earning a formal degree or professional certification. Lisa Kaye of greenlightjobs cites a colleague who started out as an administrative assistant in the entertainment industry during a robust job market. Kaye recounts, “Instead of ‘working her way up the ladder’ like many of her peers, she quit her job and went back to school, earned her Masters degree and re-entered the job market a few years later at a much higher level than she had left.  Ten years later, she is a senior vice president of corporate communications at a major media company.”

A return to campus isn’t necessary for everyone. Simply taking advantage of internal training or developmental assignments may be all you need to give your skills set a boost. Volunteering to work on a project or filling in during staffing shortages or peak work periods is also an excellent way to acquire new skills.

Beyond providing qualifications needed for your next job, seizing learning opportunities wherever you find them will give you another feather in your career cap. Mike Butler, senior vice president (SVP) of compensation and benefits at Cablevision, shares this insight, “Aside from the specific knowledge you gain or skills you acquire or hone, demonstrating curiosity, initiative and eagerness to improve will land you a prime spot on management’s radar screen.”

Step Back to Leap Forward
What if your honest self-evaluation revealed the fact that you’re not really crazy about the work you do? Maybe you come in every morning and do everything that’s asked of you to the best of your ability, but your heart just isn’t in it. In that case, your best move may be a career change. According to Comcast’s Strahan, “If you are sincerely emotionally invested in your work, that fact will come through in the quality of your contribution to the organization. Engaged people simply perform better. The concept of loving your work is coupled with the decision to choose a business that genuinely appeals to you. If you are not in love with media/telecom, but feel you can’t possibly start over elsewhere, look for another type of work within this industry that you would enjoy more. That may entail taking a short step back at first, but ultimately the combination of engagement and diversified experience will pay off personally, professionally and financially.”

It is typically easier to make a transition to another area in your current organization when you have demonstrated success, are respected and have the support of your management. It has to be clear that you have a commitment to the company, but are in need of new direction personally.

The bottom line is that there are an abundance of effective tactics to put your stalled career on the road again. As Albert Einstein said, “Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance you must keep moving.”

CTHRA’s Board Election Results

The votes are in, and we have two new faces on our board of directors: Margaret Lazo, EVP of HR for NBC Universal Television Entertainment, and Paul Richardson, SVP of HR for ESPN! In addition, three incumbent board members had their terms extended: Mike Butler, SVP of Compensation & Benefits for Cablevision System, Tenia Davis, Vice President Human Resources for Harpo Inc., and Lisa Kaye, President & CEO for greenlightjobs. We congratulate all five and look forward to their visionary leadership in 2011.

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