Jarvis Cocker, the former Pulp frontman turned solo artist, issued a rallying cry in defense of BBC 6 Music, the U.K. modern rock and alternative radio station under threat of closure.

Cocker, who joined 6 Music as a presenter at the beginning of the year, was speaking at the Association of Independent Music (AIM) annual general meeting in London. The indie labels trade body has been a key supporter of the network, which BBC management proposed should be closed following its strategy review.

"I only started working there in January and then it was about three weeks later they decided to close it down," said Cocker to audience laughter. "I did try not to take that personally."

The BBC Trust, the governing body of the publicly funded broadcaster, then launched a public consultation, which ended a month ago. Cocker said that he met the Trust to put his arguments for saving the station across.

A verdict on the station's closure is due this summer, but The Times reported that the Trust might give the station a stay of execution and call for more research before a decision could be made.

Although some have welcomed the news, Cocker was skeptical. "They [the Trust] may try to stall and say we need longer to think this over," he said. But he urged them to "stick with the timetable" as he said it would be particularly unfair on staff at the station to have to continue working under such uncertainty.

"That would be a slightly dirty trick if they tried to prolong it and hope everyone forgets about," Cocker added.

179,000 Join 6 Music Campaign

There has been widespread opposition to its closure - 179,000 have signed up to the Save 6 Music Facebook group - but Cocker fears that the vocal support for the station could subside if the Trust created a drawn-out process, which would make it easier to shut 6 Music down.

"People do have lives to live," he added during a press conference after the speech. "Maybe they [the Trust] are hoping people just get fed up of complaining."

He told the audience that 6 Music may not have driven take-up of digital DAB radios - part of the reason it was set up in 2002 - but said it had become the main outlet for alternative and independent music.

"People should cherish it for what is has turned into," he argued. He suggested that the commercial sector was not interested in replicating 6 Music's varied playlist, and he said its listeners are not the main target market for advertisers.

"[They] may grow their own vegetables, they may buy second-hand clothes," he joked.

Cocker said its closure would be a major loss for the independent sector. "It really is the only place a lot of bands are going to get played," he said. "It really would have a detrimental effect."

The AIM membership would certainly agree with that. "I feel the love," Cocker told them during an entertaining speech that began with him destroying a piece of seven-inch vinyl, which he suggested might be the Beatles' "Strawberry Fields Forever." Another record he said might be the 1981 novelty hit "The Birdie Song" survived.

The point he was making is that "a record in itself is nothing" and is merely a "way of delivering a song." So his assault on the vinyl would upset Beatles fans for its perceived attack on the song - "the content is all important" - while no one would worry about a piece of plastic getting destroyed.

Google Under Fire

During her speech, AIM chairman and chief executive Alison Wenham welcomed the introduction of the previous government's Digital Economy Act to help tackle piracy.

She also questioned Google's approach to tackling piracy, and applauded the "heroic" U.S. blues label Blue Destiny for going to court to challenge Google on links to sites that infringe copyright. Blue Destiny withdrew its lawsuit in March 2010 and Google is now counter-suing them in Florida in an effort to establish that it is not facilitating copyright infringement.

"Why don't you pick on someone your own size?" said Wenham, questioning the Web giant's approach to the biz at a time when it is planning a music service.

Despite AIM's staunch defense of 6 Music, Wenham says the DAB delivery system is a mistake and the county should not switch from its FM frequency to DAB. She described any switch to DAB-only in the U.K. as potentially a "huge waste of money" and a "very British failure waiting to happen." 6 Music is available via DAB, online and digital TV.

Wenham also warned labels to check with collecting societies on performance rights income from international compilations, suggesting there have been problems in this area. "Your performance income is in danger," she told them. Wenham is on an IFPI committee looking into the issue.

Following concerns at least year's AGM, there was confirmation that indie labels now have a greater presence on national top 40 station BBC Radio 1 during daytime.

Despite the threats facing indies in the digital era, Wenham concluded that the "myriad ways to market" are good for small companies and she suggested that the public is getting bored of the "cult of personality" surrounding "X Factor" judges such as Simon Cowell and Cheryl Cole.

"I think the independents' time is coming again," she said.

Four new AIM board members were elected during the AGM: Ruth Daniel (Fat Northerner Records), John Dyer (Domino), Martin Goldschmidt (Cooking Vinyl) and Al Mobbs (Ambiguous Records).