CharityComms says charities should be exempt from newspaper licensing charges

The body representing charity PR professionals has gone into battle with the Newspaper Licensing Agency over laws it says cost the voluntary sector £1.3m a year.

Vicky Browning: CharityComms director
Vicky Browning: CharityComms director

CharityComms has launched a campaign calling for charities to be exempt from the media licensing system, which requires organisations to pay when they make cuttings of newspaper coverage.

CharityComms director Vicky Browning pointed to charities’ VAT exemption as a precedent for the campaign.

She said: ‘Charities are in a unique position as they are not making a profit out of the media they’re receiving. The licensing system isn’t only taking money that could be used to further the charitable cause – it’s also incredibly time-consuming and labyrinthine, taking up valuable resources.’

Browning added that the NLA was placing an unnecessary burden on charities, pointing to plans that could see the charges extended to cover digital copying and emailing links to colleagues.

CharityComms research carried out over the past year and released last Tuesday showed that 82 per cent of cuttings passed on by charities are stories that the charity has itself generated. It also claims several of the larger charities are having to pay more than £10,000 a year in fees.

The NLA is a private company owned by the UK’s eight major national newspaper publishers. David Pugh, MD of the NLA, said it had met with CharityComms and assisted with its research.

He added: ‘We’ve made it clear that while we welcome dialogue we do not agree with the notion that charities should get a free licence. Charities are very professional in the way they conduct their marketing and PR these days and get value from monitoring the media.’

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