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AFTRA Investigates CBS' Kid Nation

The American Federation of Television & Radio Artists (AFTRA) says it is investigating CBS' Kid Nation, saying it was concerned about the accusations of abuse of children and the Screen Actors guild wants children in reality shows to get union contracts.

The show was produced under AFTRA's National Code of Fair Practices, which covers pay and working conditions, among other things, and AFTRA says it wants to make sure the production did not violate the agreement. 

The kids are not under the code, which does not apply to the amateur contestants on reality shows, but the host and announcer are bound by it. 

Critics have accused the network of exploiting the kids by forcing them to work 17-hour days and not sufficiently informing parents of the work schedule, but producer Tom Forman told B&C that he flew all of the parents to California and “spent days talking this through.... They totally understood what they were getting into.” 

He also says there were doctors, counselors, psychologists, and hundreds of other adults looking out for the kids.  

The Screen Actors Guild issued its own statement Monday saying it too was troubled by the allegation and would work with AFTRA to insure that future children on reality shows were covered by union contracts that would, among other things,  include maximum working hours, compensation, supervision, and on-the-set instruction.

The AFTRA and SAG announcements are just the latest buzz around a show that has gotten plenty already. It debuts Sept. 19.