The merger of the digital and physical singles charts has been delayed due to concerns that indie labels would be biased against.

Industry body the BPI has delayed the mooted move because it is concerned that music from the UK's thriving independent sector is not adequately represented through online music services, such as iTunes.

The chart merger was scheduled to take place on March 20. This has now been rescheduled to April 17, as the BPI begins a series of initiatives to help get independent label music online.

Market access a priority

BPI chairman Peter Jamieson said: "I am very pleased we have secured this delay on behalf of independents. We have to try and establish a realistic ‘level playing field’ of opportunity. It's all about market access. We are working with everyone involved to try and prioritise potential hit singles and ensure they are available for download.

"The inclusion of download formats in the Official UK Singles Chart is the most significant development in the charts for 20 years. But for a multitude of reasons the current chart representation of independent repertoire at the major download outlets is poor."

Action plan

"We have consulted widely with our independent members and we want to give both sides more time to work on this problem."

Jamieson has asked the Official Charts Company's (OCC) charts director Omar Maskatiya to present plans for the new combined chart to representatives of specialist independent trade association AIM next week.

"We are committed to consulting widely on this project," said Jamieson. "And it is important that the OCC policy and timetable is understood by AIM."