While the recession has affected pay practices across all industries, there is good news for those of us in cable: According to findings released in December from CTHRA’s 2010 Annual Compensation Surveys, base pay remained stable, fewer employers froze salaries, and incentives increased dramatically over last year.
As in previous years, CTHRA’s survey data was separated into two participant categories: MSOs and programmers. 
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 or are combined to form hybrid positions, while others are added as business operations and technologies evolve. The scope of CTHRA’s 2010 Compensation Surveys reflected programmers’ efforts in online content delivery and MSOs’ focus on Internet, cellular and ground telephony service and efforts to produce their own content such as regional/national sports networks. Positions that were introduced to CTHRA’s surveys in 2010 include telephony support in the customer service center, technical trainers and recruiters, digital video producer, digital encoder and server-based broadcast engineers.
Base Pay Stabilized
CTHRA’s analysis determined that 2010 salary adjustment budgets (which include pay raises delivered through a merit increase, promotional increase, market and/or cost of living adjustment) dropped slightly from 2009 for MSOs and remained unchanged for content providers (Diagrams 1 and 2). None of the MSOs froze salary adjustment budgets in 2010, compared to 18% in 2009, and only 7% of programmers froze budgets in 2010, down from 24% in 2009.


Said Hali Croner, pres/CEO of The Croner Company, which conducted the surveys: “Merit budgets stabilized at 2009 levels in 2010, and we anticipate seeing current budget levels as the new normal in salary planning.”
Incentives Increased Dramatically
Incentives are a common component of compensation practices within the industry. Among CTHRA’s survey respondents, 69% of the MSOs and 80% 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. 94% of the MSOs and 93% 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 3 and 4), with STI and LTI awards regaining levels seen in 2008.
“Although employers are making noticeable strides in compensation trends, we need to realize we are not out of the woods just yet. The recession continues to show signs of curtailing promotional opportunities within companies, placing a limit on hiring salaries and sign-on bonuses,” shared Lisa Kaye, CTHRA board member and pres/CEO of greenlightjobs.com.


(By Pamela Williams, CAE, Executive Director of the Cable and Telecommunications Human Resources Association. Industry employers interested in participating in CTHRA’s 2011 survey should contact The Croner Company at 415.485.5530).

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