Following the transfer of work to Equity, BECS has received numerous complaints from members who were unhappy with the transfer of work and with the redefinition of what were previously non-contractual monies to contractual resulting in these monies being paid to members’ agents rather than being paid direct as was previously the case.
A number of letters appeared in The Stage, expressing some of these concerns. Equity responded to these letters with a statement about these payments and BECS which does not portray the full picture. The Supervisory Committee considered responding via the Stage but believed it would not be in the interests of BECS members given the on-going discussions with the Union and with the Broadcasters.
However, the Supervisory Committee wish to clarify some of the issues arising from what appeared in The Stage in this report to members.
Commission – The statement from Equity said that a major benefit of the union taking over the administration of the cable monies from BECS was that the commission charged to performers had been reduced since the transfer back in-house. However, what they don’t report, as reported by BECS in last year’s transparency report and at the AGM, is that when BECS administered this stream of income, BECS was working under instruction from Equity and that included the commission rates to be charged. Equity set the commission rates, not BECS. BECS had already advised Equity, prior to their decision to transfer the work, that the commission rates should be reduced and equalised as charging Non-Union members more than Union members, a practice which has continued under the Union, goes against the regulations introduced in 2016 which now govern BECS. Additionally, under BECS’ administration these monies were classified as non-contractual and thus most members were paid directly as opposed to via their agents.
Contractual – Equity stated that they had legal advice which said that BECS could not continue to distribute this money which they now deemed to be contractual. Both BECS’ legal advice and the direct advice received from the government’s Intellectual Property Office stated that there was no legal reason why BECS could not carry on distributing these monies.
It was entirely Equity’s choice whether they wanted BECS to continue managing Equity’s distributions.
Delayed Payments – As a result of the transfer of work to Equity, there was a significant delay in payments being made to members. Again, BECS received a number of complaints and were advised that Union officials had indicated that some delay was due to BECS not transferring data to the Union. The BECS Supervisory Committee wish to make it clear that there was no delay in transferring data and in fact the data was transferred prior to the Equity system being fully functional. Equally, the Supervisory Committee want to advise members that throughout the process, BECS had offered to distribute any monies due to members until the Equity system was ready. It was entirely Equity’s choice and preference to hold back these payments until their system was ready rather than allow BECS to distribute on their behalf.