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AFTRA investigating CBS’ ‘Nation’

Performers' union to review parental complaints

The American Federation of Television & Radio Artists is investigating reports of alleged abuse of children on the TV show “Kid Nation,” which was produced under an AFTRA contract.

The performers’ union made the disclosure Friday, a day after the New Mexico attorney general’s office said it was reviewing complaints raised by a parent along with the question of whether it violated the state’s child labor laws (Daily Variety, Aug. 24). CBS has denied allegations that the upcoming reality skein violated state labor laws or put any of its youthful participants in danger during production.

“AFTRA members deplore and condemn the exploitation of children,” AFTRA national executive director Kim Roberts Hedgpeth said in a statement.

AFTRA said Friday that the participants may not have been covered by the provisions of its contract but stressed that it would investigate fully in order to be certain.

Hedgpeth noted that “Kid Nation” was produced under the AFTRA National Code of Fair Practices for Network Television Broadcasting — under which the host, announcer, reporters and other professional performers on reality and contest programming are covered by the terms of its Network Code, while amateur contestants are generally not.

“AFTRA is investigating whether the terms and conditions of the Network Code were violated in the production of ‘Kid Nation,’ ” she added. “We will take all legal and moral steps available to protect the rights of the performers and children on this program.”

The show, due for a Sept. 19 premiere, took 40 kids aged 8-15 to a ghost town in the New Mexico desert to let them fend for themselves in a rustic environment.

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