The Mail on Sunday is threatening legal action if the Prince album its giving away this weekend doesn't get counted for the charts. Although they're supposedly selling a newspaper and giving away the CD, and not the other way round.
It's not that MOS managing editor doesn't have a good reason for calling for his newspaper to be treated as an album:
Words which failed to melt the hearts of the Official UK Chart company. So he tries some bluster:
We would have thought that it might have been a good idea to seek legal advice from your lawyers before sending threatening letters - especially since it's not clear how not qualifying for the album charts constitutes "restraint of trade": is it not going to be stocked anywhere because it falls foul of the rules? Does Miron believe that having a Prince album at number one will somehow help sales of the Mail On Sunday the following week, when it doesn't have a prince album to give away? Does he think people won't buy a record because it doesn't count towards the charts?
The Chart Company won't budge:
Miron counters that this is, erm, a human rights issue:
"The fact that they are referring back to rules put in place ages ago doesn't seem to fit with the way the music industry is now. I think they are mad."
Now, if you're going to throw around claims that people are "mad", suggesting that - somehow - the chart company should be enabling every newsagent, sweetshop and old bloke with a newsstand to function as a chart return shop by the end of the week might lead a few people to assume that Miron has a couple of bees loose in his processing-honeypot. And suggesting that Prince has a right to number one based on discs that will be given away with a newspaper that would have been purchased with or without the CD isn't exactly sane - does someone who sneaks CDs hidden into homes disguised as a Franklin Mint insert in You Magazine really deserve the chart position more than someone whose fans have actually, actively purchased the record?
Besides which, of course, even if you pretend that the paper comes free with the album, and not vice-versa, and even if the newsagents of Britain could be linked in to the chart return system, even then Prince still wouldn't qualify for the charts. The paper - sorry, CD - is just too cheap, coming in under £2.69 ceiling for "budget albums" and, as the chart eligiiblity rules state [pdf]:
Budget albums are excluded from all published Album Charts, except Classical Album Charts.
And, the provision of a newspaper and two general-interest magazines "for free" with the Prince record would seem to fall foul of this rule, too, forbidding:
Clearly, the Chart Company aren't going to back down on this one anyway - the precedent would mean any covermount CD would become eligible for the charts, and in effect the music industry would end up underwriting the costs of auditing magazines circulations.