Monday, December 17, 2007

Cast your votes in Collecting Society election

An official statement from the WGGB:

Many members of the Writers’ Guild of Great Britain will shortly receive voting papers for a ballot to fill vacancies on the board of the Authors’ Licensing & Collecting Society Ltd.

You must use all four of your votes, and the Guild recommends that you cast them for the four Guild members who are standing – Edel Brosnan, Gail Renard, Hugh Stoddart and Robert Taylor.

It is more important than ever this year, as changes in the constitution of ALCS mean that the Guild no longer has any right to nominate representatives directly on to the board. Unless one or more of our members wins a seat, the Guild could be unrepresented.

ALCS collects millions of pounds each year from photocopying licences and fees for the overseas cable retransmission of UK television channels and programmes. The Guild is concerned that ALCS may tend to give more attention to photocopying than to audiovisual issues, and a strong vote for Guild candidates would help to avoid this problem.

It is very tough for Guild candidates to be elected, as Guild members are heavily outnumbered within ALCS by scientists, academics and book writers.

You should receive your voting papers within the next few days. Please deal with them immediately – despite the Christmas holiday, the closing date is early in the New Year.

Please also note that ALCS has introduced a strange rule that your ballot paper will not be counted unless you use all four votes. This is different from council and trade union elections, where you can use as many votes as you like up to the maximum number.

Gail Renard, Chair of the Guild's TV Committee, adds:

The ALCS ballot papers are plopping onto your doormats now, and we urge you to follow the Guild’s recommendations and vote for our four candidates: Edel Brosnan, Hugh Stoddart, Robert Taylor and Gail Renard. Edel, Robert and Gail are all current directors of ALCS, who are standing again for our seats. During our time, we’ve been instrumental in lowering ALCS’s commission rate considerably, but we feel there’s still much further to go. And it’s paramount, in this digital age, to find writers as many new sources of income as we can, without sacrificing any of our primary royalties.

ALCS do a lot of good work but Guild members and TV, film and radio writers are greatly outnumbered, although we few bring in about one third of ALCS’s income… almost £6 million a year. The Guild is concerned that ALCS may tend to give more attention to photocopying than to audiovisual issues, so we need reps at ALCS who are up to speed with our profession and its practices. A strong vote for the four Guild candidates would ensure we would all continue to be represented and protected.

Always remember that the money you receive is not a gift from ALCS or manna from heaven. These are your residuals, which literally means the remainder of your payment. Your initial fee takes into consideration the royalties and residuals which you’ll receive in the future; your ALCS money being one of them. It’s your part of your pay and you’ve earned every penny.

We are also committed to investigating the serious issue of secondary commissions. Often the payment you receive from ALCS has already been reduced by up to 40% by the time it’s included other commissions, handling fees and cultural levies imposed by foreign collecting societies and agencies. We will ensure that the ALCS investigates these amounts and re-negotiates contracts wherever exorbitant fees are deducted.

Your vote is vital. We’ll need each and every one of them to win, so please pass this info onto all the writers you know. Also, due to a vagary of the ALCS election, you must vote for four candidates using black ink or your ballot paper will count as spoilt. You don’t have long to return the papers, so please do it immediately. Help us to protect your income, now and in the future. It’s your money!

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