BBC Five Live Radio host Simon Mayo this afternoon declared the iPod "may be the saviour of music."

Mayo hosted a panel discussion on MP3 players and music downloading, featuring representatives from the British Phonographic Institute (BPI), Chrysalis, a musician, writer and radio producer. Mayo devoted a large chunk of todays show to the topic.

The BPI and Chrysalis representatives chose to defend the music industry stance that downloading music illegally constitutes theft. The Chrysalis representative pointed out that at £10 each, CDs had not risen in price for ten years, and offered good value. She added that "people don't complain at footballer's high salaries", so why should they object to music industry wages? Mayo spurned that argument as specious.

The BPI repeated its claims that the future of music is under threat, adding that downloading music is the equivalent of walking into HMV and stealing CDs.

Mayo countered that the UK launch of iTunes Music Store may stem the tide of piracy by offering a wide range of music at competitive prices. Strangely, the BPI representative ignored that surmise and chose to recommend PC-only service

Writer Brian Appleyard defended music downloads, arguing that that the "dreadful filtering and radio playlist system" prevented much good new music from being heard.

"Thanks to the Internet we will become our own A&R men, with a much tighter relationship between artists and their audience", he argued.

A listener emailed the show to say that since he began downloading music he had dramatically increased the number of CDs he buys, as he enjoys the facility to try music out before purchasing it.

Listeners calling the show seemed to favour music downloading, and accused that music companies have been "greedy" for years, accusing them of charging too much for legally acquired CDs.