The furore surrounding Newspaper Licensing Agency moves to enforce
copyright payment for press cutting copying has intensified.
Following last month’s launch of the NLA drive, groups representing
local government in England and Wales are preparing to fight for special
terms. The Association of County Councils, the Association of
Metropolitan Authorities and the Association of District Councils,
believe that they should not be charged at the same two pence per copy
rate as commercial organisations.
Beryl Evans, ACC head of communications, said the associations were
meeting this week to prepare their case for negotiation. She said that
providing press cuttings to officials and elected representatives was a
vital part of the democratic process.
Anthony Rentoul, chairman of the NLA, which represents all national
newspaper publishers, except News International, said that, although the
association was not charging charities or primary and secondary schools,
it did not think it was appropriate to give other groups preferential
Both the PRCA and Institute of Public Relations have expressed concern
at the NLA initiative. Fionnuala Tennyson, IPR public relations
manager, said that although the Institute accepted payment was necessary
under the law, it had written to the NLA with certain key concerns.
These focused on the size of the two pence fee itself and the fact that,
as the NLA did not represent all national newspapers groups, new members
might cause fees to rise.
Tennyson expressed concern about the NLA’s ‘aggressive’ approach. She
said that, after the association sent out literature stressing that
imprisonment or heavy fines could follow non-compliance, the IPR
received many calls from ‘frightened’ members.
She said that the Institute now intended to draft a definitive policy
statement for its members.
Quentin Bell, chairman of the PRCA, said the NLA had acted unreasonably
and had employed ‘immature and unnecessary bully boy tactics’. He said
the PRCA intended to canvass its members for their opinions and to
disseminate its own views to them.