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No Ifs, Ands or Butts, the New FCC Must Focus on Neutrality

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The Denver Post today urged a new Federal Communications Commission to get its mind off of "buttocks" and onto more serious issues like Net Neutrality.

The editorial board was referring to a case now before the U.S. Court of Appeals, in which the agency's top legal minds are trying to determine whether some bare cheeks featured on a 2003 episode of "NYPD Blue" warrant indecency fines for ABC.

"This is the place to which the FCC under the Bush administration has brought us," the Post editors write. "We are hopeful that Barack Obama will appoint a new FCC chair with a moderate sensibility and a healthier respect for constitutional issues."

Obama: Net Neutrality will be top concern of my FCC chair
Obama is expected to appoint a new FCC chair at any moment. While there's been a flurry of speculation over his choice, no clear name has emerged from the pack.

Whomever the president-elect picks for the job, the nation's new top media regulator will face more heady concerns than indecency. In 2009, we expect to see new rules protecting Net Neutrality. Other changes under an Obama administration could include reversing runaway media consolidation and stopping pay-for-play news, radio payola and propaganda.

Thousands of people have already identified these as among their priorities for the new Commission, according to an online poll posted on Tuesday.

According to the latest count, these are voters' top four priorities:

  • Protect an open Internet by enforcing Net Neutrality
  • Break up media conglomerates and return stations to local control
  • Stop propaganda, fake news and radio payola
  • Open more public airwaves to high-speed Internet access

The good news is that the incoming Obama administration's tech and Internet agenda echoes the public's wish-list. In fact, protecting Net Neutrality is number one on Obama's list of tech to-dos.

To help the new administration navigate the political minefield between campaign promises and legislative reality, Free Press' policy shop just released a presidential road map for media reform.

"Leadership on [Net Neutrality] will settle the question of the future of the open Internet, ending several years of rancorous fighting that pit consumer advocates and tech companies against network owners," according to Free Press. "The Obama administration should move swiftly to put Net Neutrality into the law as a cornerstone of 21st century telecommunications policy."

As for the current FCC's obsession with the occasional flash of indecency, it's time to turn the other cheek and get to more important work ahead.