Times raises agency rates after row with Cavendish

By Jon Slattery

The Times has upped its rates following the “blacking” of the title by the Cavendish Press news agency.

Manchester-based Cavendish stopped filing copy to The Times in March
after a dispute sparked by nonpayment for exclusive backgrounders.

Now
in a letter to agency chief Brian Whittle, the paper’s deputy managing
editor David Chappell said: “It is clear that The Times’ rates have
lagged behind those of other national dailies over the course of the
last few years.

“That has been coupled with the switch of the
newspaper to a compact format which has brought a reappraisal of how we
gather and present news stories.”

From 1 September The Times’ rate for a page lead will go up to £130 from its previous £70-£100 and “intermediate” rates for stories between 100 and 300 words will increase to £50.

News briefs of less than 100 words will remain at £25.

Exclusives and backgrounders will be “open to negotiation”.

Whittle
has written to Chappell commending him for his courteous approach to an
aggrieved situation and said: “It’s certainly a step in the right
direction but all it does is put The Times on a level playing field
with the rest of the nationals.

“And we all know that, in real
terms, news payments over the last few years have slumped, commissions
have dried up and agencies are no longer paid for providing a service –
just taken for granted.”

Denis Cassidy, president of the National
Association of Press Agencies, welcomed the new rates but claimed it
was a “sad reflection” on the state of the industry that Cavendish
Press had to pull the plug on The Times.

He also claimed the new
rates “still woefully undervalue the contribution made by NAPA members
to the editorial content of the paper.”

Cassidy said: “The rates
have remained unchanged – and in some cases actually decreased – over
the years, so the increases cannot be described as over-generous.

“When
one compares the new rates to increases in labour and other costs
absorbed by agencies and the amounts charged for advertising space in
The Times, it demonstrates just how out of touch everyone has become
with the effort and 24-hour availability of freelances.

“In any
event, the introduction of new rates without proper prior consultation
also perpetuates the feudal system, operated only in newspapers, of the
purchaser continuing to fix the price. In all other fields of business
this is the prerogative of the producer or, at very least, the subject
of negotiation.”

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