Comedy Central and AFTRA Announce Agreement

A new agreement between the production arm of Comedy Central basic cable TV network and the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists was announced that expands the types of programming and kinds of performers covered by the union contract.

"This agreement represents a phenomenal achievement by AFTRA members," said AFTRA National Executive Director Kim Roberts Hedgpeth. "Through the initial organizing effort in the 1990s, AFTRA members have worked diligently to provide professional performers on Comedy Central programs with strong union standards of wages, benefits, and working conditions."

The new three-year deal with the New York-based Central Productions LLC—which succeeds an earlier agreement from 2000 that had expired in March 2004—greatly increases the programming covered by the AFTRA contract to encompass all types of programs for the network.

The 2000 agreement covered programs that were 30 minutes or longer, such as situation comedies, stand-up comedy shows, and games shows. The new agreement adds to the coverage to also include programs of all lengths, including news and magazine programs, stand-up and sketch comedy programs, variety programs, interstitials, and other scripted materials.

The scope of persons covered by the AFTRA contract is also expanded to include all performers and also ensure that background performers receive union rates.

Performers across all categories receive a boost in compensation under the new agreement. For example, minimum weekly rates for principal performers can now reach $2,557 under the new pact.

"With this agreement, AFTRA members will have increased job opportunities on a wider range of Comedy Central programs that offer better pay and benefits than ever before," said Hedgpeth.

Employer contributions to the AFTRA Health and Retirement Funds will also be increased to match contribution rates for network over-the-air broadcast TV.

The Comedy Central negotiating committee of AFTRA members who work on the cable network programs gave final approval to the contract yesterday, which had been approved earlier by the AFTRA Board of Directors at the plenary meeting in New York on July 29.