Cuttings fees slammed

Indira Das-Gupta

The British Red Cross has spoken out against the "outrageous" fees charged by the Newspaper Licensing Agency for distributing copies of articles internally.

The charity diverts £7,000 a year from front-line service to the NLA, which was established in 1996 by the national press.

Under copyright law, organisations that pay cuttings agencies to monitor their coverage in the national and regional press must also pay the NLA if they want to copy their cuttings so that more than one member of staff can see them.

The amount an organisation pays depends on its size and how many cuttings it distributes internally. The latter figure is calculated after a two-week audit.

The NCVO has secured a discount for charities, with free copying for small NGOs. But bigger charities still pay the larger fee because of the amount of articles they copy.

Leigh Daynes, head of media at the British Red Cross, said: "We are paying £7,000 a year, which we feel should go to front-line services.

"The NLA says the rule protects newspapers' revenue because, if a person looks at a cutting, it means they won't go out and buy that paper.

"But the cuttings are from back issues, so they are not available to buy anyway. The fee is calculated by volume, so we are effectively being penalised for getting press coverage, which is perverse."

The NCVO is contacting the members of its PR Forum to gather their views before lobbying the NLA.

But the NLA defended its fees and claimed that the annual amount paid by the Red Cross amounts to only 8p a copy. It said it was available to offer advice to organisations that wanted to reduce their fees.

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