Agency group sets up subs-free pics service

Ditchburn (inset) and a 2dayukimages pic from South West News

The days of picture agencies charging subscription fees are over, according to a new service based on a core of regional news agencies.

Rather than paying a subscription fee to 2dayukimages, clients are given access to its website and only pay for pictures they choose to download.

2dayukimages chief executive Ted Ditchburn, of North News and Pictures in Newcastle, said: “Most picture agencies are like a book club, where you pay a subscription and have to buy a certain amount of books. With us you only buy the book you want.”

Ditchburn runs 2dayukimages out of his Newcastle base with pictures supplied by leading independent news and picture agencies in England and Scotland.

The company has developed as a sister company of 2dayuk, the service set up by independent news agencies to supply content to mobile phones and new media. Supporting the venture are the major regional news agencies, such as Cavendish in Manchester and North Scot in Aberdeen, as well as celebrity picture agencies such as Big Pictures and Splash.

Ditchburn said PR pictures are being put on the site and can be downloaded for no fee. There are archive pictures, including a collection of shots of Sixties blues bands, and 2dayuk has also been talking to a police force about carrying their pictures. “New technology has enabled us to bring agencies together,” said Ditchburn. “Together we employ more photographers than any of the big players.”

As an example, he said 2dayuk agencies have 11 photographers in the north of England, compared with one employed by a national subscriptionbased agency.

Ditchburn compared the arrival of 2dayukimages to that of channel Five against the established television networks.

“[It is] a newcomer and smaller than the rivals, but with an absolutely distinct identity and service offering that justifies our position and ensures we do have a viable future,” he said.

The first target of 2dayukimages has been signing up regional newspapers, but Ditchburn has also found a strong demand from business-to-business magazines. Consumer magazines, television companies and the foreign press have also signed up.

The pricing of pictures is based on the size of publication or broadcaster wanting to use them.

Ditchburn added: “We think subscription services are dead. That’s why we’ve gone for a zero subscription. It is absolutely free. If you never click on download, you never pay.”

By Jon Slattery

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