Britain's Assn. of Independent Music is making a last-ditch attempt to push back the release of the first singles chart in the U.K. that will combine physical sales and downloads.

Britain's Assn. of Independent Music is making a last-ditch attempt to push back the release of the first singles chart in the U.K. that will combine physical sales and downloads. The weekly chart is expected to debut on Sunday (April 17).

AIM today (April 13) sent an official request to the U.K.'s Office of Fair Trading, urging the government body to postpone the release of the combined chart. AIM chairman Alison Wenham says the letter expresses concerns about the representation of indie repertoire in the chart.

Wenham says AIM took the extreme step after consulting with its members and attempting to discuss the issue with the chart's aggregator, the Official U.K. Charts Co. The OCC is a joint venture between labels body the British Phonographic Industry and retail group the British Assn. of Record Dealers.

"We welcome the advent of digital downloads and their inclusion in the charts, but indie labels are not able to play on an even playing field," Wenham tells Billboard.biz. "This chart will not represent the reality of the market."

The launch of the chart has already been delayed one month to give indie labels more time to arrange licensing deals for their repertoire with download services. "It has got better," says Wenham, "but the indie sector is still under-represented. It is not fit yet for the public."
She believes that the chart as it is will hurt indie labels' share in the U.K. market, as chart positions have an impact on retail, radio and other business opportunities.

In a statement, the OCC says it "has not received a copy of any complaint and has not been contacted by the OFT." It goes on, "The OCC board believes that any referral of the OCC to the OFT by AIM is unfounded."

"On the face of it, this is without foundation," says a source familiar with the situation, adding that indie repertoire has performed well on the download chart and will be reflected on the combined chart. "It is a work in progress, but it looks pretty good," the source says of the new chart.

The BPI declined comment. The OFT could not be reached for comment.

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