BAPLA Opposes British Newspaper Rate Cuts

Posted on 2/10/2009 by Julia Dudnik Stern | Printable Version | Comments (0)

Citing economic pressures, several U.K. newspapers announced reductions in rates paid to their suppliers, including journalists and picture agencies. The British Association of Picture Libraries and Agencies has recommended its members reject the new pricing.

The Times has cut its image rates nearly in half, with the minimum rate for photos going from £90 to £54. Compensation for photos used at 11 square inches to 25 square inches has been reduced from £130 to £90, reports the Press Gazette.

The Sun has announced similar cuts. According to the Guardian, minimum image rates are now around £70, rising to £168 for large photos (30 to 56 square inches). The Sun stressed that it was still “the biggest overall payer in the business with the largest budget of any national newspaper for lineage and pictures.”

Following consultation with its members, BAPLA has gone on record opposing these rate reductions. The organization said members involved in one-on-one consultations on the subject were all united in rejecting this attempt to change established image rates.

New BAPLA executive director Simon Cliffe said the new rates were unacceptable despite the tough market conditions. Cliffe also stressed that BAPLA is concerned about the newspapers’ presentation of the rate cuts as a fait accompli, without consulting the image suppliers. BAPLA chairman Paul Brown added: “If a BAPLA member were to walk into a news agent and demand to pay half the cover price of The Times, they would be laughed out of the shop.”

Also opposing the cuts is the U.K. National Association of Press Agencies.

Whether or not such opposition will be effective is, however, uncertain. Previous experience says not: When InTouch Weekly made a similar move in late 2007, the majority of supplying agencies accepted the reduced rates—and this involved celebrity imagery in the highest demand. The reason is apparent: in a non-regulated industry where a number of agencies offer the same or very similar content, finding someone to accept lower pricing is not that difficult. There are plenty of ambitious start-ups to whom the reduced pricing may not seem as bad, while many older agencies are struggling with new competition and broader economic pressures. Many of those that accepted the take-it-or-leave-it InTouch deal were unwilling to completely lose the magazine’s business.

It is, therefore, quite probable that U.K. newspapers will prevail despite supplier opposition. The more important lesson for image suppliers is to recognize this as another confirmation of a global decline in licensing rates for all types of imagery. While the reasons for this decline vary slightly among different buyer industries, and there is hope that increasing volumes of uses make up for the difference, the decline in individual image rates appears irreversible.

Copyright © 2009 Julia Dudnik Stern. The above article may not be copied, reproduced, excerpted or distributed in any manner without written permission from the author. All requests should be submitted to Selling Stock at 10319 Westlake Drive, Suite 162, Bethesda, MD 20817, phone 301-461-7627, e-mail: wvz@fpcubgbf.pbz


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