Katie Melua's record label has attacked changes in German chart rules that have seen her "Pictures" (Dramatico) album kept off No. 1 by a comedy DVD.

Comedian Mario Barth's spoken word DVD "Männer Sind Primitiv, Aber Glücklich" (Sony BMG) claimed the top albums berth on Oct. 16, despite containing no music. The DVD is packaged with the "Männer Sind Primitiv" CD, which dropped out of the charts Sept. 30 after 39 weeks on the albums survey.

But the situation is no laughing matter, says Dramatico Entertainment chairman Mike Batt, who saw his artist Melua bumped into second place on the chart, having been held off the top spot by Finnish rockers Nightwish the previous week.

"I don't think its fair to have a spoken word DVD with absolutely no music on it beating (other albums). This is not anything to do with music. The whole chart has been disadvantaged," Batt tells Billboard.biz.

"It's a music chart, surely?" he adds. "If they want a chart for comedy, let them have a chart for comedy. If they want one for spoken language as opposed to music, that's fine. But where do you stop? Let's put vegetables and grocers in the chart then, and we'll get beaten to No. 1 by how many shipments of potatoes go out of the supermarkets."

The new Media Control chart system, introduced July 26, is based on revenues rather than volume (see Billboard, Aug. 11). The combined "Männer Sind Primitiv" DVD/CD costs €18-20 ($25.53 - $28.37), while Melua's CD retails for €13.45 ($19.05).

The new chart rules also stipulate that if the duration of the audio and video music content accounts for more than 50% of the entire playing time, the product is included in the music charts. Otherwise, they would show up in the video charts.

However, as comedy CDs sell well in Germany, a special clause has been added to the rules, stating that "comedy productions which predominantly consist of the spoken word are eligible for inclusion in the charts if they are recordings of stage productions." And no distinction is made between audio and video content going forward.

Batt, who sits on the board of IFPI Europe and serves as vice chairman of the BPI, adds, "I'm certainly going to make a complaint. It's like being beaten into the No. 2 spot by a shipment of bananas. It has nothing to do with records. There's no malice in this, but I don't think it's fair."

To date, there has been little in the way of negative reaction to the new chart rules from the German recorded music companies and retailers.