The BBC's proposals to close modern rock digital station 6 Music and the Asian Network has met with protests from listeners and the music industry.

Artists including Mark Ronson and La Roux have spoken out in defence of 6 Music. Ronson said the station's ethos included "great old music" and "great new bands."

The radio stations were described as "sacrificial lambs" by Don Foster MP, the Liberal Democrat opposition shadow culture, media and sport secretary.

Foster praised the decision by the publicly-funded BBC to "focus on high quality U.K. content" - it will put £600 million ($897 million) of savings from its overhaul into programme-making - but said the public's response must be taken into consideration. A 12-week public consultation on the proposed changes in the BBC strategy review is now taking place.

"I am not convinced that using 6 Music and the Asian Network as sacrificial lambs to pay for it is the right approach," said Foster in a statement. "While the BBC has become overgrown in some areas and needs pruning, the License Fee payers must have their say about what's to go."

"I welcome the BBC is thinking hard about what it does and where it should focus in future, but politicians should avoid compromising the BBC's independence by giving a running commentary on its decisions," said Ben Bradshaw, secretary of state for Department for Culture, Media and Sport, in a statement. "It is important that the public's voice is heard in the consultation."

Jeremy Hunt, the shadow culture secretary for the Conservative Party, welcomed the move by the BBC to do less.

"I am pleased that the BBC is taking a long, hard look at exactly what it should be doing, but the truth of the matter is that we need to see actions not words," he said in a statement. "Will the BBC be less expansionist? Will it think carefully about its impact on the independent sector? Above all, will it spend licence fee payers' money on quality public service content that they want to see? Only real change will address these concerns so I hope that's what we get."

Those speaking on behalf of the music industry and musicians are far more troubled by the closure proposals.

John Smith, general secretary of the Musicians' Union, commented: "The BBC's investment in and contribution to music is unrivalled in the U.K., and while we welcome the plans to put nearly £600 million a year into higher quality content, which will undoubtedly benefit MU members, we would urge the BBC not to forget its strong tradition of investing in new musical talent.

"BBC 6 Music is particularly important because of its remit to support live music and new artists. It is also relatively cheap to run - costing roughly five times less than Radio 1 - and we would urge the BBC to reconsider its closure."

U.K. trade body the BPI and indies counterpart AIM had written to the BBC before this proposal was confirmed.

"BPI and AIM would strongly oppose the closure of 6 Music," said BPI chief executive Geoff Taylor in a statement before the confirmation today. "We understand that the BBC has to cut costs and wants to leave space for the commercial market. But withdrawing valued public service programming which the market won't provide is no way to achieve that.

"The BBC has an essential role to play in introducing the public to new music. It has let down music fans and the music sector by failing to replace [weekly chart countdown] 'Top of the Pops.' Closing 6 Music would undermine the diversity and wealth of British musical culture."

"This is probably not the easiest of day for us, probably not the easiest day to be on the radio, to be honest with you, especially not this station, which I love with all my heart," 6 Music presenter Lauren Laverne told listeners.

Part of the BBC's public purpose within its Royal Charter is to "provide outlets for new U.K. artists to have their music heard on radio." BBC 6 Music is also part of the BBC's remit to enable listeners "to explore music from the past" and the broadcaster's coverage of a wide range of genres. However, BBC bosses will argue that their other two national popular music stations - Radio 1 and Radio 2 - can fulfill this task.

The closure of 6 music would also remove one of the few dedicated DAB (Digital Audio Broadcasting) radio stations, which were supposed to encourage take-up of DAB sets so that digital switchover can take place by 2015. BBC 6 Music is also available via the Internet and digital TV.

A BBC Trust review - commissioned before the strategy review - last month found that 6 Music was distinctive and well-liked by its audience but recommended it should extend its audience reach among "enthusiasts of alternative popular music." But it also found that only one in five people had heard of it.