Regionals Key to football web licence solution

MEN:could be hit hard by fees


The co-operation of regional newspapers will be the deciding factor in a tentative plan to resolve the dispute between the Premier and Football Leagues and journalists over whether media companies should pay for a web licence to publish match pictures on their websites.

A sliding scale of "facility fees" paid to clubs depending on the size of publishing companies, agencies and freelances could hit regional newspapers  hard, especially those with several top football teams in their area.

The Manchester Evening News, for instance, has 16 professional clubs in its area, the highest density in the world.

The leagues have told papers they want an editorial levy of £5,000 for the right to publish on the web. A combined national newspaper and sports agencies team has rejected that, describing it as a tax on editorial content.

Nor does the media like the idea of an alternative ‘royalty’ scheme based on sharing revenue derived from internet sales with the leagues. They own the copyright and do not feel the leagues have a right to claim part of it.

Now the journalists have come up with a "facility fee" plan – standard fees for print-only, print and internet (nationally or locally) or syndication.

If agreed, it would be for a five-year deal, fees to be paid in the second year with any further increases pegged to Retail Price Index.

The fee scale would be:

lNational newspapers within one group: £1,000 for print and online rights.

lNational syndication departments: an additional £1,000.

lIndependent sports picture agencies: at least £3,000.

lNational wire agencies might pay more.

lThe regional press to be "clustered" according to the size of their operations with £1,000 being the top benchmark. A single weekly would pay £100 while a regional publishing house with up to five print titles would pay £500. More than five would trigger £1,000 (whether part of a national’s publishing division or a regional-only entity).

lFreelance photographers, selling to print-only or internet: £500 or less.

lGround improvements by the clubs to be a quid pro quo.

Peter Spencer, sports editor of the MEN, told Press Gazette: "It is a matter of great concern that the clubs appear to be moving from the position where we work in tandem for mutual benefit towards one where the leagues are trying to pressurise newspapers into funding their operations."

By Jean Morgan

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