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29/01/2007

Unions Seek Stop To Up-Front Fee Scams

Bectu and Equity recently launched a joint campaign to ban up-front fees charged by agents to background artists.
The two unions are campaigning for a change in the law to stop unscrupulous agents charging up-front fees to performers, and prevent scams on members of the public that exploit their desire to get on television by charging exorbitant fees for so-called "auditions".
The unions have agreed a joint statement designed to put a stop to exploitation by rogue entertainment agents charging high up-front fees on the promise of work that never materialises.
Bectu Assistant General Secretary Martin Spence said: "We have always been opposed to entertainment agents charging up-front fees to performers and very few genuine ones do but up-front fees for inclusion in an agent's casting book continue to be a problem for people wanting work as walk-on and supporting artists.
"What we are saying very clearly in this statement is that the only fee a genuine agent should ever take from an artist, is a commission fee from work found".
Equity General Secretary Christine Payne said: "A ban on these up-front fees charged by agents will be a huge step forward for our members working as walk-on artists.
"But publishers are different. It is not in our interests to see a ban on fees for legitimate publishers this could have a devastating impact on valuable services like Spotlight. Instead we are arguing for much greater restrictions on the way that publishers take money to address the worst abuses."
The Chair of the BECTU's Film Artistes' Association Committee (FAA) Paul Kirby said: "By working together the unions have sent a powerful message to Government and to rogue agents that these practices must stop."
Equity Walk-On Councillor and Bectu member Clive Hurst said: "So far the DTI has failed to deliver a permanent solution, but this statement provides the prospect of real improvements for performers and the public."
The statement lays out a framework of better protection, based on a much clearer distinction between publishing or photographic services and genuine entertainment agents.
The unions believe that their statement on the issue provides a way forward for any future changes being considered by the government.
(SP)
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