The proposals, passed unanimously by Guild members, allow for the creation of:
- A charity that will carry on the benevolent work of the Writers’ Guild Welfare Fund, but also enhance the status of writers by arranging educational and cultural events such as seminars, showcases and awards
- A new collecting society to receive payments for online use of television programmes – such as BBC iPlayer and video-on-demand – and distribute the money to writers
- The Books Co-op, which will help members to produce and market self-published books, concentrating on print-on-demand and ebooks
- A new trustee company, with the existing trustees as directors, to take responsibility for the Guild’s finances, assets, premises and its responsibilities relation to the new companies.
The proposed creation of a new collecting society for digital payments was not intended as any kind of threat to ALCS, he explained – indeed, ALCS and the agents body the PMA have both been involved in discussions about the idea – but was a response to requests from broadcasters to find new, more efficient ways to distribute money in this growth area.
As Guild General Secretary, Bernie Corbett, added, the agreements that the Guild has made with broadcasters for digital payments will soon expire and it is important to develop a new model that while secure the best possible deal for writers. While the amounts of money involved are currently relatively modest, digital distribution is growing fast and the sums involved will increase.
Following the vote at the AGM, the Guild will now seek to take forward the proposals in discussions with other interested parties. (The Books Co-op has, in fact, already been set up)
There were no other major rule changes during the AGM, but Guild President, David Edgar, was returned for a second three-year term and Bernie Corbett was confirmed as General Secretary for a third five-year term.