Anger at BBC's charges for freelances

The BBC is under fire for a new payments system which would mean freelances being charged for invoicing the corporation.

A letter that has been sent out under the heading “Improved Invoice and Payments Processing at the BBC” outlines a new electronic delivery system for billing. Freelances are alarmed that the letter says there will be a “small charge” for anyone who sends in more than 12 invoices a year.

A BBC spokesman put the proposed charges at £25 for between 12 and 30 invoices a year, £45 for between 31 and 60, and £75 for more than 60.

He stressed that there was no compulsion to join the new system and said it would be faster and more efficient at tracking payments than traditional methods.

Asked about the principle of charging freelances who are owed money, he replied: “How much do you pay for a stamp or an e-mail?” The spokesman said the letter had gone out to the BBC’s top 500 suppliers but said the service would eventually be offered to everyone.

News agency boss Neil Hyde, editor of Reading-based INS News Group, has received one of the letters. He told Press Gazette: “It’s absurd that a company such as the BBC or any publishing organisation should actually charge freelances for sending an invoice for work they’ve done for them. To expect freelances to pay a fee to get paid is just out of this world.”

Chris Johnson, chairman of the National Association of Press Agencies and head of the Mercury Press Agency, said: “It is ludicrous and a sick joke considering the low and vastly out of date, paltry rates the BBC pays in the first place.”

By Jon Slattery

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