Thursday 5 August 2021

11/8/21 update on the PF/ALCS issue

Update 11/8/21 I've seen nothing official direct from ALCS, but have been forwarded messages saying in effect this was all a mistake by ALCS, we can claim, and that they'll sort out the website soon. I've also had reports that people have now successfully registered some DCT published work.

original post...

Jenny Worstall contacted the ALCS for more information on this issue and received the following response, which she thought might be of interest to readers of this blog.

"In regards to the publisher, D C Thomson they have always mandated with the NLA for some time. ALCS has reviewed the mandates of publishers and in order to adhere to Government regulations, we could no longer pay out on publications from Publishers who were mandated by the NLA as, we receive our revenue for journals and magazines from the CLA who do not have a licence to collect monies for NLA publishers.
To that end, ALCS allowed a ‘cool off’ period whereby, we still honoured the existing claims submitted by our members which has now come to an end. Although DC Thomson the publisher is mandated with the NLA, it does not reclassify any journals or magazines to a newspaper. D C Thomson still retain their published journals and magazines.
We can only advise that you contact your publisher to see if you can now claim via them for the money that you were previously eligible to receive from ALCS. This may be something that is included within your contract. Our understanding is that the NLA will pay your publisher any fees due contractually, but this is something that you will have to ask them about directly.
This will be brought to the ALCS Distribution and Membership Committee who will be looking into ways of how to get this message out to our members once we have established how many ALCS members are actually affected by this.
The most recent publishers to date are;
• William Reed
• Pageant Media
• Aspermont Media
• PEI Media
• Incisive Media
• Euromoney Institutional Investor
• Stage Media Company"

And in a further update, I asked ALCS on twitter if you could still claim ALCS for stories in MW Annuals and PF Annuals and they said yes, because these publications have an ISBN.

I do feel we don't have the complete picture yet and hope ALCS (and DC Thomson) will be able to shed more light on this situation soon. I'm trying to be patient!

I looked at my contract (from 2016) but couldn't find any mention of ALCS. But it would appear that DC T was mandated with NLA then. So, unless I'm understanding this incorrectly, it is not DC Thomson that has changed, it's to do with a review (and government guidelines?).

I think the situation is beyond an individual writer or writers now and I hope that maybe writers' organisations will be able to shed some light on this and/or speak up for writers in some way.

Any thoughts?


Anonymous said...

We did consider that the government had changed some legislation so queried ALCS. This is the response - Hi, thanks for your query. It wasn't a change in Government legislation that's led to this change. Unfortunately, we’re no longer accepting claims for articles published by D C Thomson as they are now mandated by the Newspaper Licensing Agency (NLA) and as a result of this, ALCS will no longer be receiving any money for these publications to pass on to members.

As mentioned it still makes no sense if DC has been with NLA for years. Further questions have been emailed to try to clarify the situation.

Womag Writers and Company.

Anonymous said...

I phoned ALCS and they were very clear with me that DC Thomson made a change to the permissions they give for copying and that's why they can no longer claim. Given that pay rates haven't increased in years and even contributor copies were taken away, I can't imagine DCT replacing this income for writers themselves.

Patsy said...

@ Womag Writers and Company – thanks for trying to get clarification. It does seem to be a confusing situation, not helped by ALCS giving different answers to different people. They've said DCT have always been mandated with the NLA, and also that changing to this mandate is what's made the difference.

@ Anonymous – Unfortunately although ALCS have been very clear in their explanations to several people, they've contradicted themselves at times.

@ Jenny – I'm fairly certain that none of the contracts I've seen over the last 20 years, for any of the magazines, have mentioned ALCS.

ados123 said...

It's a very messy business, but thanks for putting everything in one place, Patsy.

Jenny Worstall said...

Thank you for posting my email reply from ALCS and my thoughts as to what it might mean, Patsy. The situation needs a wide audience! RNA are aware, also SWWJ and I have shared with Women writers and company on Facebook and there's a lot of helpful discussion there. Lots of stuff on twitter popping up now too. I don't belong to the Society of Authors. If anyone else does, do you know if there has been any sort of statement or opinion expressed about the situation? Really hoping for positive news soon, for everyone's sake.

Anonymous said...

The SOA were useless with the Woman's Weekly situation and they'd be equally as useless with this. All they do is send letters then fail to communicate the results. None of the organisations have any teeth so publishers can do whatever they like. I suggest everybody on Twitter asks at least one question about the ALCS situation on PF's Tuesday writing hour so they at least know how writers feel. We buy the mags too which they always seem to forget.


Anonymous said...

The biggest joke is The People’s Friend call themselves a ‘friendly’ magazine. They underpay their writers, exploit them by asking for free content, take money from them without a word (ALCS) all with a smile on their face. That’s not being friendly, is it?

Anon 1.

Anonymous said...

This is all very dispiriting. And reading the latest blog is more dispiriting still. This is what they say there about their writers:
Some are hugely prolific. Others manage a more modest output. But every one contributes to the magazine’s ongoing success.

Please note - they call TPF a magazine on the blog - more than once, although according to NLA it is a newspaper - is this classification as a newspaper significant? Perhaps someone at DCT could advise?

Yet the lack of empathy towards us concerning the ALCS situation is deafening. The only answer - we will get back to you. Erm - when? This has been a couple of weeks now, at least? They must understand how important ALCS income is to us - especially considering their woeful, inflation-dodging pay rates.

I admit to not understanding the situation in it's entirety. Partly, I think, because ALCS are offering different answers to different people who query the situation.

Where is the transparency? If DCT have been mandated to NLS for several years - which from numerous contracts they clearly have been, why is this happening now? Some contracts go back to 2014 - thats an incredibly long bedding down period for ALCS to have continued to pay if they weren't receiving income...

To be honest, the blog suggests that they are actively seeking new writers. It's hard in light of the lack of information for authors from DCT to not see this as a cynical move. Loyalty to writers who have been writing for them for years? It would be lovely to see that, just in response to the many queries they are receiving for starters. It's all about 'clarifying' the situation. Do we suspect they just don't want to be breakers of bad news so are stalling, and encouraging new writers if us oldies decide not to submit anymore? I do.

It's hard to tie up the warm fuzzy DCT that they like to project with the apparently careless approach over this matter.

This is from the NLA website:
However, publishers may have to share a percentage of that revenue with contributors if they do not have appropriate contracts in place to cover work that is copied.

I'd love DCT to show where this is covered in our contracts. If organisations are paying to reproduce our work and we retain copyright - how come we don't get any of those monies now, as we did with ALCS? Am I missing the point??

Oh, and chase your editor for outstanding subs? Yeah, right :-). When the chase itself falls off the edge into a black hole too. You just give up.

Times have been tough for everyone over the last 18 months. We've remained loyal if frustrated - time for the same courtesy to be shown to us?

Anonymous said...

ALCS have at least responded to our many questions. Any clarification we've had on this matter has come from them. But TPF 'are still looking into it.' It's been nearly a month now. They could look a bit harder. And it would be nice if they also looked at the stories they've published this year which we sold to them in good faith, innocently unaware that a paycut was about to be applied in retrospect. Why is it always the writers who end up at the bottom of the heap?

Anonymous said...

Also, are any recent sales coming with a warning that we can't claim ALCS? I doubt it.

Anonymous said...

I'm still seeking clarification as to from when this applies. Does it apply to everything published in 2021 - including material that ALCS allowed me to update them with, before this became an 'issue'? While I accept that publishers have the right to change whichever schemes they wish to be a member of, to do it half way through a year seems more unfair. Telling us now that material published from 1st Jan 2022 would have been annoying, but at least it would have given us warning. Doing it now, with the possibility that nothing from this calendar year will be eligible feels like I'm having money that I was already entitled to, taken away from me.

Anon 2

Anonymous said...

Haven't some writers been told it won't be paid out on anything published in 2021?

I only received a very brief reply from ALCS, not enough detail about when it will apply from.

Really, this ought to be confirmed. Someone should know for sure.

Personally it would apply to a handful of stories.

If DCT have changed permissions as ALCS told someone above, don't we deserve to know/be told? And in layman's terms. I'm not sure what that means?


Anonymous said...

Used to have great respect for TPF as they always seemed to treat their writers with respect, but for some reason (and I really don't think we can blame it all on 'we're all working from home due to Covid') this has changed. They have said several times they will get back to us with an explanation and nothing has happened. Even if they're not able to give us definite answers they could at least issue a statement reassuring us they're not brushing it under the carpet in the hope it (we) will just go away. This comes on top of the long times we are now having to wait to hear about whether stories are being accepted. They tell us on Twitter to contact our editor if we haven't heard in a reasonable amount of time. But when we do that the editor often doesn't even reply. Never thought I'd feel so disappointed in what was once the 'friendly' magazine - oops, I suppose that should be newspaper now.

Carolb said...

Last Thursday I tweeted ALCS pointing out that the publishers won't tell the writers they can't get ALCS anymore, they'll leave that to ALCS. I also asked 'when will a statement be issued clarifying who and when?'.

This loss of ALCS income from DCT magazines will not only hit short stories, but articles and images, poems, and pocket novels. That's a large amount of content that People's Friend and My Weekly need to satisfy the buying public.

The hierarchy of many magazines seem to have the mistaken belief that short story writers do it as a hobby, rather than a part of their writing career. The lack of pay rate rises would certainly suggest this.

Magazine publishers need all the support they can get post #pandemic. Alienating their writers, and failing to communicate the facts, is not a sensible move.

lionsshare said...

Yes, I agree with Carolb. The pay for short stories in women's magazines has stayed the same for years. Without ALCS it is very poor remuneration for the effort put in. It is insulting to think that editors or magazine proprietors may think that we write for the satisfaction of seeing our story in print and that payment is a secondary concern. Try using that logic on, say, a plumber! Not fair and not acceptable. Perhaps they thought we wouldn't notice or care!

Liz said...

I've been told by ALCS that the March 2021 payout was the last that writers will receive for stories in The People's Friend (and presumably My Weekly). This means that anything published in 2020 and 2021 will not be eligible for ALCS payments. I find this really disappointing, especially as 2020 and 2021 have been such very difficult years for everyone, including financially.

Unknown said...

I only have further questions!
Regarding the first line of this response – have DCT ‘always’ mandated with the NLA ‘ or have they mandated with them ‘for some time’?
Did they use to also be mandated to the CLA or did ALCS just assume that?
Have ALCS been paying us out mistakenly in previous years? It sounds like they’ve reviewed what they were doing and suddenly realised they were paying a load of people who weren’t entitled to be paid. But, if so...
...when ALCS realised the situation, why didn’t they tell us we were in a ‘cooling off’ period, so we at least had the info and could make fully-informed decisions?
Why is DCT, which has at least two major magazine brands, only linked to NLA which largely deals with newspapers?
Why do NLA pay money due to writers to the publisher? Do they expect that money to be passed on or do they not care? Maybe we should be lobbying them?
Even if DCT could be persuaded to pass on any monies due to us, we have no idea – well, I don’t – of how their system works or whether payments would be on a par with what we usually get from ALCS. Don’t know if it’s even worth asking about this?
As payment from ALCS has always been a small boost that made writing stories for the very low fees you get from DCT worthwhile, is it now even worth carrying on?

Anonymous said...

This is what the NLA say:
'However, publishers may have to share a percentage of that revenue with contributors if they do not have appropriate contracts in place to cover work that is copied.'

I can't see anything about copied work in my contract. Does anyone else? I can only see reference to syndication and and distribution.

If we retain copyright should we not receive payment for copying done under a licence?

Jenny Worstall said...

A small note of positivity...I've just added a story in the My Weekly 2022 Annual to my ALCS account and it seems to have accepted it, no problem (because it has an ISBN). What we really want, then, is for magazines which are now being counted as newspapers to somehow be counted as books...

Eirin Thompson said...

I share correspondents' concerns about the loss of ALCS payments for material published in DC Thomson magazines - it will be a big financial blow. However, I have found The People's Friend an excellent publication to deal with over recent years. The fiction team seem to me committed to reading and responding to submissions, and provide a considerable service to writers via regular blog posts. I am also thankful that the "Friend" continues to pay promptly on acceptance of stories, rather than waiting for publication, and is happy for writers to retain copyright to their work. The "Friend" demonstrates a commitment to original fiction, too, by remaining open to all submissions and by publishing hundreds of new stories every year. It also provides writers with the security of submitting to a magazine that has a large, established readership. Given that this organisation has behaved so professionally up until now, I would propose allowing a little more time for this matter to be thoroughly scrutinised by the publishers - perhaps there is still hope for a mutually satisfactory new arrangement.

Patsy said...

Thanks everyone for your comments.

I've just 'attended' The People's Friend Writing Hour on twitter. This issue is still being looked into and a response will be provided once the fiction team have a full answer.

Anonymous said...

They have said that for four weeks. We asked for an official statement in the meantime so we knew exactly what was going on and that it was all in hand and ongoing. That would have removed any need to continue to ask questions. They didn't respond. To further try and head things off, Womag Writers and Company tweeted a link to this blog so they could see how everybody was feeling and perhaps issue a tweet or statement before the writing hour. Again, nothing. We weren't asking for the answer, we were asking for consistent and continued communication and a little understanding. I’m afraid a lot of us don’t trust these organisations since the Woman’s Weekly issue, and why would trust DCT after what they've already done?


Anonymous said...

@Womag has just posted to twitter:

To anybody claiming ALCS, TPF and MW annuals are classed as books and can still be claimed for. The specials are still classed as magazines and can be claimed for as far as we know.

My comment is: Please note - the PF specials are no longer accepted by ALCS.

Anonymous said...

ALCS are issuing a statement which should be reaching Patsy at some point. It includes - To clarify, at the current time the publications that have been specifically mentioned (My Weekly, People’s Friend) are included in the ALCS payment scheme, and the functionality on our website will be rectified shortly to reflect this.


Patsy said...

Oh, interesting!

Anonymous said...

Many, many, many thanks to everybody who posted here. I think you made a difference. Not sure how long this change will last but a reprieve will give me time to get roaring drunk.

WWC. xx

ChrisC said...

I ve never received anything from ALCS as I have only been submitting short stories in the last couple of years. But I d like to thank everyone on here for providing all the information. It’s been an eye opener!

Jenny Worstall said...

Brilliant news! I have already managed to register a pocket novel this evening...

Carrie said...

Thanks for keeping us updated, Patsy. And great news!

Jenny Worstall said...

There's a blog from Angela now on the PF website.

Anonymous said...

From TPF - Sadly, a small but vocal minority of writers used the situation to direct verbal aggression, personal insults and bullying towards the “Friend” fiction team on social media and online. It is completely unacceptable that members of my team were targeted with such behaviour, and such rudeness and abuse will not be tolerated.

I want to make it clear that WWC asked forthright, pertinent questions and nothing more. We warned the magazines of growing unrest and asked them to issue a statement for two weeks running. They didn’t do so. Judging by the blog post just issued they had plenty of information they could have shared without compromising their professionalism. This includes, ‘DC Thomson values and respects its contributors and always endeavours to treat them fairly and consistently. We would not take any action that would prevent our contributors collecting the royalties that are due to them.’

If this was the case and this was a known fact when the issue developed then this statement could have been used to reassure their writers and prevent the issue turning into anything which they might have considered ‘unpleasant.’