CTHRA's Symposium Was All About Talent Everywhere!
Gems of ideas and insight gained from the June event in Atlanta


Robust Medical Coverage and Generous Retirement Plans Are Cornerstones of Cable Benefits Packages
Check out the data just released from CTHRA’s 2012 Benefits Survey


The Case for Corporate Responsibility
Discover what industry employers are doing and why

Hats off to Sheryl Anderson!
Starz promotes longtime CTHRA board member to EVP, HR and Administration

How Important is Building Your HR Professional Network?
Take a moment to respond to our Member Poll!

25 New Members Join CTHRA in May and June

CTHRA's Symposium Was All About Talent Everywhere!

Our 2012 Symposium was an engaging exploration of the game changing environment of Talent Everywhere. Attendees and speakers discussed how remote, mobile and global employees are increasing in our industry, and how a dispersed work force changes skills set requirements, communications, trust, culture, project management, compensation, and much more. Here are just a few of the golden nuggets shared by our speakers:

Equifax CHRO Coretha Rushing: Coretha discussed how many of today’s younger workers think compared to baby boomers. If you ask a millennial if he likes his job, he is likely to answer yes. If you ask him if he plans to change employers soon, his answer will also be yes. In contrast, a baby boomer is likely to answer no, she doesn’t like her job, and no she doesn’t plan to leave any time soon. The bottom line is that millennials don’t expect to be at any one employer very long. In fact, Coretha cited a statistic that workers today are likely to change their jobs 20 times over their careers. Understanding this shift in worker expectations is critical to one’s recruiting, retention and development strategies.

Myrna Soto, SVP, Chief Infrastructure and Information Security Officer, Comcast: The industry executive panel first focused on the difficulty of attracting technologists that will keep the industry moving forward. Myrna explained how many techies simply don’t equate the cable industry in the same ranks as Google and other high tech firms. This challenge requires a heavy emphasis on branding the industry and companies as high tech employers of choice and it requires HR to embrace technology in their work.

Mary Ann Green, VP, Sales Systems Development, Turner Broadcasting System, touted the use of telecommuting to attract and retain talent, especially as a growing number of individuals are reluctant to relocate.

However, it’s not as easy to hold individuals accountable or gain buy-in to the company’s culture when folks aren’t sitting in a chair across from your office.  Kevin Hart, Chief Technology Officer, Cox Communications, urged companies to develop programs to help executives, senior leaders and supervisors develop the skills needed to lead a dispersed team.

Brian Shield, EVP and Chief Information Officer at The Weather Channel, believes that one great way to aid retention is to have employees work on compelling initiatives that are directly related to the company’s core purpose.  Myrna agreed, saying that companies should look to outsource commodity work so that employees can work on cutting-edge, innovative projects.

During the closing keynote session, Libby Sartain, HR Expert and Author, shared a peek into the way work is evolving. She cited Independents Hall, a groundbreaking concept that provides co-working space and a sense of community to freelancers in Philadelphia. Libby also talked about crowd sourcing. She projects that talent management will evolve to use it when you need it and as a result, we need to stop thinking about work in terms of a job description and more in terms of “gigs” or assignments.

Lisa Chang, CTHRA Board Member and Symposium Co-chair, did an outstanding job summing things up:  “work is no longer where you go, but what you do.”

We captured several great moments in photographs. Check out the Symposium Gallery at[email protected]/

CTHRA's 2012 Excellence in HR Award Recipients.   CTHRA board of directors thank closing keynote Libby Sartain.








Robust Medical Coverage and Generous Retirement Plans Are Cornerstones of Cable Benefits Packages

Employee benefits are a critical component of compensation. In this era of economic uncertainty and spiraling medical costs, workers are very cognizant of company benefits, their value, and their share of healthcare costs. Data just released from CTHRA’s 2012 Benefits Survey illustrates that industry employers offer very robust benefit packages. Sixteen companies (ten programmers and six MSOs) participated in the 2012 survey and provide generous benefits that include medical coverage, wellness initiatives, retirement plans, life insurance, accidental death and disability insurance, long-term disability insurance, and severance pay. Offering such competitive packages helps companies differentiate themselves while simultaneously attracting and retaining top talent.

“Benefit costs represent a significant investment by cable MSOs and programmers,” said Tom Mathews, EVP of HR for Time Warner Cable. “The industry needs to design benefit programs that effectively and efficiently support our employees and their dependents, yet mitigate future cost increases for our companies.”

“We use CTHRA survey results to benchmark how much we spend on healthcare and other benefits relative to our peers in the industry,” added Bill Strahan, EVP HR Comcast Cable.  “Our executives are very focused on knowing what others are doing.”

Health Insurance
All industry employers participating in CTHRA’s survey offer health insurance, the most prevalent forms being Preferred Provider Organization (PPO) and Point of Service (POS) plans, and a few Health Maintenance Organizations (HMOs) or Exclusive Provider Organizations (EPOs). On average, respondents spend about $10,000 a year on medical costs per eligible employee ($10,089 for MSOs and $10,655 for programmers).  For MSOs, net medical cost translates to 19 percent of the average employee salary (payroll divided by the number of employees), while that figure is lower for programmers—9 percent.

Industry employers also pay the lion’s share of health insurance costs. Among MSOs, the employer’s share of medical coverage (for both employee and dependent contributions in total) averages 79 percent, and for programmers it averages 83 percent.

“We have a very particular focus on making sure that our employees carry a fair portion of the premium costs but that we are not over-burdening them,” said Strahan. “The CTHRA survey helps us pinpoint our relative position.”

Controlling Costs
Cost control is a top priority for everyone involved in benefits planning, as medical insurers estimate the inflation rate for healthcare coverage runs between 9 and 11 percent each year, reported Bill Danish, Senior Vice President of Willis, the human resource consulting firm and insurance broker that conducted the 2012 survey.

One new cost-control trend revealed in the 2012 survey is the growing availability of Consumer Driven Health Plans (CDHPs). These plans encourage employees to be better healthcare consumers. Typically, CDHPs have lower premiums than traditional plans, but higher deductibles. Preventive care is covered at 100%, but employees must first meet deductibles before other services are covered. CDHPs can also feature Health Savings Accounts (HSAs), which allow employees and employers to contribute money to cover deductibles and other healthcare costs. Funds left in HSAs roll over to the next year, and employees can move the accounts from one employer to another.

“Employees benefit from these plans because if they change their behavior and look for ways to improve their health, they spend less,” explained Danish. “Employers benefit because an engaged consumer can help ‘bend the trend’ and will ultimately lower the 9 to 11 percent medical inflation rate and its impact on the benefit plan.”

Of the 10 programmers surveyed, four now offer CDHPs, up from two last year. MSOs, however, have been slow to adopt CDHPs. Only one MSO surveyed offers a CDHP, the same as in 2011. However, that MSO says the CDHP is the company’s most popular medical insurance option. Among those offering CDHPs, plan deductibles range from $1,200 to $2,400 for single-person coverage to $2,400 to $4,800 for family coverage. Of the five companies offering CDHPs, four contribute to employee HSAs and one to a Health Reimbursement Account (HRA). Employer contributions for single-person coverage range from $500 to $750 and for family coverage $1,000 to $1,500.

Wellness Initiatives
Workforce participation in wellness activities such as tobacco cessation and weight loss programs can also help reduce medical plan expenses. To encourage participation, ten companies (six programmers and four MSOs) now offer employees incentives to take part in Health Risk Assessments (HRAs), biometric screening, and behavior modification programs. Incentives include cash, gift cards, lower premiums, and, in one case, reduced benefits for noncompliance. In fact, in February, CableFAX published a CTHRA article about  innovative ways that industry employers encourage healthy living among employees. (read it at

“We believe this interest in wellness incentives indicates more consumerism and better management of the health of the employee population,” said Willis’ Danish.

Retirement Plans
Retirement plans are also attractive to personnel, and 100 percent of the companies surveyed offer such benefits. Of participants, 67 percent of MSOs and 30 percent of programmers surveyed offer Defined Benefits (DB) plans, or traditional pension plans. In addition, all 16 respondents offer Defined Contribution (DC) plans, such as 401K plans. However, employers vary in the time they require employees to be on the job before they become eligible to participate in a DC plan. Of those surveyed, 33 percent of MSOs and 40 percent of programmers enroll new hires immediately in their 401K plans, while the remainder require a waiting period. This year the survey also asked companies if they offered auto enrollment and auto increase for their 401K plans. Half of MSOs provide both auto options, while 80 percent of the programmers surveyed offered auto enrollment and 70 percent offered auto increases.

CTHRA’s survey also reveals that cable employers match employee contributions to 401K plans — on average $3,700 per employee for MSOs and $4,600 per employee for programmers.

Future Benefits Planning
With the future of the Affordable Care Act still uncertain, despite the recent Supreme Court ruling, healthcare reform is the big unknown in the 2013 benefits planning cycle. “Obviously the healthcare benefit environment is changing rapidly,” said Anthony Amato, VP Global Benefits, Discovery Communications. “We believe that healthcare reform and cost control in terms of plan design will be critical in this year’s planning process. The data we receive from CTHRA’s Benefits Survey is extremely valuable in helping us shape our plans.”

When compared to non-industry employers, Willis’ Danish says that overall survey data movement was “consistent” with general employer averages. “Other than the increase in Consumer Driven Health Plans and more interest in wellness initiatives, 2012 results were similar to 2011. However, based on responses, we believe 2013 may show more movement in anticipation of healthcare reform.”

In the coming months, industry employers can also look forward to the release of findings from CTHRA’s 2012 Human Capital Metrics and Annual Compensation Surveys. For more information about CTHRA’s surveys, please visit

2012 CTHRA Benefits Survey Participants    


Bright House Networks
Charter Communications, Inc.
Comcast Cable Communications Inc.
Suddenlink Communications
Time Warner Cable, Inc.

A+E Networks
AMC Networks
Crown Media Family Networks
Discovery Communications
Home Box Office
Scripps Networks Interactive
Starz Entertainment
The Weather Channel
Turner Broadcasting System, Inc.

2012 CTHRA Benefits Survey Key Metrics



Total medical cost per eligible employee*
Total medical cost per covered employee*
Net medical cost as a percent of salary*
Employer share of medical contributions*
     (employee and dependants)
Offers a DB retirement plan (pension)
Of those offering a DB plan, it is open to new participants
Offers a retirement savings plan (401k)
Offers immediate entry to 401k
Retirement (401k) matching contribution*
401K auto enrollment
401K auto increase





* Metrics are listed as averages.


The Case for Corporate Responsibility
These days you hear a lot about employers’ efforts to be good corporate citizens. But in the cable industry, it's nothing new. In the May 17 issue of CableFAX, Pamela Williams, executive director of CTHRA, asks MSOs and programmers about their major philanthropic initiatives and how they impact the bottom line. Read the article

Hats Off to Sheryl Anderson!
Long-time CTHRA board member Sheryl Anderson has been promoted to EVP of HR and Administration for Starz Entertainment. Sheryl joined Starz in 1992, shortly after it was founded, and company President, Glenn Curtis describes her as “a true ‘Starz original’ who has been instrumental in assisting us in building a legacy of growth and strong performance.”

Previously Sheryl served in various positions in tax and compliance at Tele-Communications Inc., United Cable, and United Artists Communications. A native Coloradoan, she lives in Castle Rock, Colorado with her husband and son.

Member Poll

25 New Members Join CTHRA in May and June
CTHRA welcomes 25 new additions to our community of HR professionals and invites you to connect with them, or any of CTHRA’s 1,600+ members, by visiting the online member directory.

Yolandra Alexander
Turner Broadcasting System
Adria C. Bush
Time Warner Cable
Regina Childers
Turner Broadcasting System
Lisa M. Custer
Bright House Networks
Dawn Edwards
Viacom Media Networks
H. Regina Gathers
Time Warner Cable
Janessa Grayson
Turner Broadcasting System
Andy Greenberg
Viacom Media Networks
Marina Guimaraes
Discovery Communications

Susan Guzman
Viacom Media Networks
Kim A. Hamm
Bright House Networks
Rekha Kurikoti
Disney ABC TV Group
Tony Markvicka
Viacom Media Networks
Dana Marsh
Monique Martin
Turner Broadcasting System
Joanne O'Brien
Scott Patrick Parker
Turner Broadcasting System
Rebecca Pessel
Bright House Networks
Kathy L. Petrower
WWE (World Wrestling Entertainment)
Jean M. Rode
Cox Communications
Ralena M. Rowe
Time Warner Cable
Lorraine Schaum
Viacom Media Networks
Crystal Sherrill
Turner Broadcasting System
Yvette Smetana
Comcast Cable
Jennifer Tracy
Bright House Networks