Splash forces Express to cough up unpaid fees

A picture agency has persuaded Express Newspapers to pay it £68,031 in unpaid fees after issuing a High Court writ, writes Dominic Ponsford.

Following the move, other agencies said the company was gaining a reputation for late-paying of agency fees.

US-based agency Splash News and Pictures sued Express Newspapers for fees owed dating back 18 months. Most of the debt was understood to stem from under-paying for news photos. Express Newspapers was believed to have settled at the point where it could have started incurring liability for the costs of Splash’s lawyers.

One UK-based news agency executive said: “The Express used to boast that we may not be the best payers on Fleet Street but at least you get paid. Now they are not the best payers and you don’t get paid on time.”

Another agency boss said: “Express Newspapers have a self-billing system, which means they only pay bills they authorise themselves. This has been a source of constant problems.”

National Association of Press Agencies chairman, Chris Johnson, who runs Mercury Press, Liverpool, said: “I’m pleased to see a prominent NAPA member getting payments that have clearly been long overdue.

“Running an agency is a tough business without newspaper managements making life even more difficult by attempting to withhold payments.”

Express Newspapers declined to comment.

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