Retirement net, AFTRA in accord


AFTRA has struck a pact with producers of all programming on fledgling basic-cable network Retirement Living TV, retroactive to March 1.

In a joint announcement Tuesday, union and network officials said the agreement assures that AFTRA performers "will be employed in all entertainment and information programs on the network." The agreement follows months of the union discouraging AFTRA members from working on the network's shows until a contract was reached.

The first-time contract sets minimum terms of compensation for AFTRA performers and provides for network contributions to the union's health benefits and pension fund. Compensation minimums are based on program length, with an on-camera host or co-host earning a minimum scale of $845 per day for each 90- to 120-minute program appearance.

Retirement Living is carried by satcaster DirecTV nationally and fills portions of the programming day on two Comcast proprietary cable channels on the East Coast, CN8 and CET5. The network offers health, lifestyle, financial and political programming geared to Americans 55 and older and boasts a national footprint of 26 million households.

"This is an important milestone for us and a major step forward in our growth," network president Brad Knight said.

"The commitment of Retirement Living to diversity and particularly to the employment of senior performers is to be applauded, and we're excited about how AFTRA members will help carry out the mission of the new network," said Kim Roberts Hedgpeth, AFTRA national executive director.

Columbia, Md.-based Retirement Living has production facilities in Los Angeles and New York. It was founded last year by John Erickson, who operates a Baltimore-headquartered chain of retirement communities.