Benton Foundation

The mission of the Benton Foundation is to articulate a public interest vision for the digital age and to demonstrate the value of communications for solving social problems.

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Headlines

  • Oct 30 2014

    Attorney General Eric Holder Jr., who announced his planned resignation in September, bears responsibility for undermining robust journalism by his overzealous leak investigations and his opposition to recognizing a reporter’s constitutional or common law privilege to protect sources. Perhaps seeking to improve on that dismal record, AG Holder issued new guidelines in February concerning prosecutors’ use of subpoenas and search warrants to obtain information from reporters. Those guidelines include some valuable changes, but they also contain a central flaw that requires prompt correction, as a group of media representatives will be urging at a meeting with Justice Department officials.

  • Oct 30 2014

    While the Federal Communications Commission might be stepping toward à la carte video programming, it is a baby step at best.

  • Oct 30 2014

    Time Warner’s HBO is exploring various routes to offer consumers a stand-alone streaming video service, including as an add-on to broadband packages or through technology partners such as Apple, Microsoft and Amazon.

  • Oct 30 2014

    European telecommunications companies that operate in countries with four or more competitors have generally had poor profitability. That does not concern regulators, although the resulting low rate of investment should. But regulators are slowly changing their tune on consolidation.

  • Oct 29 2014

    Federal Communications Commission Chairman Tom Wheeler wants to allow businesses like Aereo and Sony to register as cable companies. This would allow those companies to strike deals to carry the TV stations owned by media businesses like Viacom, NBC and Time Warner. This is a good step and should provide consumers more choices.

  • Oct 29 2014

    To Facebook -- the 1.35-billion-user behemoth where we increasingly record our daily choices -- no person, comment or casual thumbs-up is isolated: Everything is part of a larger pattern.

  • Oct 29 2014

    US Presidents, of course, have long manipulated select members of the news media with “exclusives” designed to maximize an announcement’s impact and enhance the administration’s standing. The Obama White House is no different, but it has played the game a little differently.

  • Oct 29 2014

    New research from Harvard Institute of Politics on the political attitudes of young Americans paints a picture of a population that is digitally connected to the outside world but wary of putting their political beliefs into action through traditional offline actions, such as attending a protest or volunteering for a candidate.

  • Oct 29 2014

    After companies shut down and collectors lose interest, the Library of Congress is supposed to keep our cultural history intact. But digital media has turned our understanding of preservation on its head.

  • Oct 29 2014

    In a note to investors, BernsteinResearch says it still expects the Comcast/Time Warner Cable merger to be approved by the Federal Communications Commission -- with conditions -- and close by the end of first quarter 2015 or the beginning of the second quarter.

Blog

  • We’re less than two weeks from Election Day 2014 and deciding which party will control Congress for the next two years. Nate Silver gives Republicans a 66% chance of winning a majority of seats in the Senate which would give the party control of both Houses. What would that mean for telecommunications and technology policy?

  • Putting aside all the sky-is-falling caterwauling, here is what the FCC needs to do now: Treat broadband as the telecommunications it so obviously is under Title II, and reassert that there is still a place in government responsible for protecting consumers, innovators, and citizens generally from what will otherwise surely be unbridled industry gate-keeper control over the communications ecosystem upon which our nation’s future rides.

  • On October 16, the US Commerce Department’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) released a report, Exploring the Digital Nation: Embracing the Mobile Internet, which finds that over the last five years, the total number of Americans 16 and older that accessed the Internet on any device grew by 18 percent from 151 million in 2007 to 187 million in 2012 after adjusting for population growth. Broadband adoption at home increased to 72 percent of households in 2012 from 69 percent in 2011. Despite the progress in home broadband adoption, the report also identifies persistent gaps in home Internet use. In 2012, a significant portion -- 28 percent -- of American households did not use broadband at home. A lack of interest or need (48 percent) and affordability (29 percent) are the top two reasons for non-adoption.

  • Three years ago, Blair Levin, a former Federal Communications Commission Chief of Staff and Executive Director of the National Broadband Plan, organized Gig.U, a coalition of three dozen research university communities working to accelerating the deployment of next generation networks to serve their communities. Over two-dozen communities have, or are now in the process of, deploying such networks. This week the Brookings Institute named Blair a non-resident Fellow in its Metropolitan Policy Program, causing FCC Chairman Wheeler to note, “No one's done more to advance broadband expansion and competition thru the vision of National Broadband Plan & Gig.U.” In light of Blair’s background, we asked him to reflect on the report released today by the Pew Research Center on “Killer Apps in the Gigabit Age.”

  • On September 23 Comcast and Time Warner Cable submitted to the Federal Communications Commission what’s called “Applicants’ Opposition to Petitions to Deny and Respond to Comments” – basically, the companies’ answers to filings arguing against Comcast’s acquisition of Time Warner Cable. Back in April, we looked at the companies’ claims that the deal is in the public interest and, more recently, we published a series on what public interest advocates, competitors, and politicians are saying about the transaction. Today we look at how Comcast and Time Warner Cable replied to opposition – focusing just on how they argue the deal could impact broadband services in the U.S.

  • There is time, FCC Chairman Wheeler, to conduct several full Commission meetings before you call the vote on net neutrality. I guarantee you that you’ll learn a lot and have a sounder basis for making the critically-important decision you and your colleagues must vote on shortly. In fact, you shouldn’t be calling a vote until you and your colleagues have had a chance to talk—really talk—to the American people.

  • Easily, network neutrality won the week in telecommunications wonkland. September 15 was the latest deadline for public comment at the Federal Communications Commission as it tries again to recraft what it calls open Internet rules which, in the simplest terms, is treating all Internet traffic equally. The Senate Judiciary Committee held a hearing called Why Net Neutrality Matters: Protecting Consumers and Competition Through Meaningful Open Internet Rules, and the FCC help four forums on the topic. With so much activity, it is wise to take a breath and figure out where we are.

  • On September 30, the Federal Communications Commission will vote on whether to repeal its sports blackout rules. The outcome is a forgone conclusion - the FCC will repeal the rules.

  • Although network neutrality -- or Freedom Against Internet Restrictions, if you prefer -- grabbed many of the headlines this week, we’d like to highlight a September 4 speech by Federal Communications Commission Chairman Tom Wheeler entitled “The Facts and Future of Broadband Competition.” To cut to the chase, Chairman Wheeler outlined an Agenda for Broadband Competition that establishes principles for all of the FCC’s broadband activities.

  • One of the most controversial issues the Federal Communications Commission will face this fall is whether it can and should preempt (i.e., invalidate) state laws that restrict their municipalities from constructing and operating their own broadband networks. This post does not address the wisdom of these projects, but rather whether the FCC has the legal authority to preempt those state laws.