Cost, not piracy, is the reason for falling CD sales in the UK, according to nearly two thirds of PC Advisor readers.

In a recent poll on the PC Advisor website, 63.9 percent of the 2,290 respondents blamed the biggest slump in UK music sales since the launch of CDs in the early 1980s on excessive pricing.

A mere 11.4 percent concurred with the music industry's widely propagated view that popular file-swapping networks such as Kazaa and Morpheus are to blame for the downturn.

Exactly one fifth of respondents were of the opinion that a lack of quality artists was to blame for the four percent drop in sales.

Meanwhile more than 1,200 international stars, including Sir Elton John and Chris de Burgh, have signed a petition calling on the European Union to cut VAT on CDs.

Presented to the EU in Brussels yesterday, the artists are demanding that recorded music should be classed along the same lines as other 'cultural' products, including books, newspapers and theatre tickets.

The European Commission is currently reviewing VAT directives. The flat rate in indirect tax on CDs is set at between 15 and 25 percent across the union, with charges varying from 25 percent in Sweden and Denmark to 15 percent in Luxembourg. Customers in the UK pay 17.5 percent.