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Petition calls for agents to be licensed

BECTU joins forces with Equity and the NASAA to persuade BIS to look again at the case for agency licensing.

2 December 2010

BECTU, Equity and the National Association of Supporting Artistes Agents (NASAA) have joined forces to launch a petition calling on the Department for Business Innovation and Skills (BIS) to examine the case for the licensing of agents in the entertainment industry.

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The groups have long campaigned for the introduction of stronger measures to protect the innocent and the vulnerable from exploitation by rogue agents.

Currently, anyone is at liberty to set themselves up as an agent and is free to charge up-front fees linked to a promise that work will be found. All too often, however, the fees paid, which can be as much as a £250, do not result in any benefit to the individual and no work materialises.

'Current legislation does not go far enough'

Spencer MacDonald, BECTU national official, commented:

“Many dishonest agents in the entertainment industry are making promises they can’t keep. They promise fame and fortune, regular work and easy money. However, the candidates are then asked for an upfront fee for photographs or for placement on the agency’s website. They are then told the agency will be in touch soon with offers of work.

“The truth is most people will never recoup this initial outlay through work found via the agency. The problem is compounded for walk-ons as they will be encouraged to register with a number of agents in the hope of finding more work.  It’s clear that current legislation doesn’t go far enough to protect the innocent and vulnerable. Only strong licensing will provide clarity and help to curb some of the worst abuses.”

It is hoped that strong support for the petition will persuade Vince Cable, secretary of state, and his team at BIS that the case for the licensing of agents in the entertainment sector needs to be examined.

A licensing regime existed until 1995 when it was scrapped.

In October 2010 new regulations came into force which extended the cooling off period for entertainment workers considering signing up with new agents. BECTU is not alone in believing that these new measures fail to provide the protection the sector needs.

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