Britain's Office of Fair Trading has dismissed the Assn. of Independent Music's attempt to launch a full inquiry into the Official U.K. Charts' new combined weekly singles chart.
LONDON -- Britain's Office of Fair Trading has dismissed the Assn. of Independent Music's attempt to launch a full inquiry into the Official U.K. Charts' new combined weekly singles chart.
The Official U.K. Charts Co. -- a joint venture of the British Phonographic Industry and the British Assn. of Record Dealers -- compiles the country's record sales charts.
AIM sent an official request to the government body on April 13 urging it to postpone the release of the chart, which now integrates physical singles with digital downloads. In its letter, the London-based labels trade body raised concerns under unfair competition laws concerning a lack of representation of indie repertoire in the chart.
The chart, which officially debuted April 17, had already been delayed one month to give indie labels more time to arrange licensing deals for their repertoire with download services.
"We have closed the file," an OFT spokesperson confirmed May 17. "Based on the information provided," the spokesperson says, "we do not have reasonable grounds to suspect that the Competition Act 1998 has been infringed by the decision by the OCC or OCC shareholders to launch a combined physical and download chart now, in the present form."
BPI chairman Peter Jamieson welcomed the OFT's decision. "The combined chart is all about stimulating the industry to more rapidly embrace digital, to progress the industry," he tells ELW. "As such, any [wrench thrown into] the works -- such as an OFT referral -- would have slowed down that progress. And that's in nobody's interests whatsoever."
An AIM spokesman says, "we are looking at our options."
OCC charts director Omar Maskatiya says representation of indie label repertoire is now gathering pace in the digital world. "In the majority of charts published since the launch of the new Top 40, independents have done better than they would have done in the old physical-only chart and in fact this week look set to have a particularly strong presence in the Top 40," Maskatiya says.
Jamieson says the dispute should not affect discussions between the trade bodies going forward. "This doesn't affect our relationship with AIM," says Jamieson. "There's no bad blood or sour grapes."