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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  • On April 8, 2014, Comcast announced that it and Time Warner Cable have officially filed their joint Applications and Public Interest Statement with the Federal Communications Commission. This kicks off the formal regulatory approval process for a proposal that has garnered lots of media attention. Comcast and Time Warner Cable argue that the proposed acquisition is “pro-consumer, pro-competitive, and will generate substantial public interest benefits. This week, we take a look at the companies’ claims. The FCC will approve a proposed ownership transaction if, if, after weighing “the potential public interest harms of the merger against any potential public interest benefits,” it concludes that, “on balance,” the transfer “serves the public interest, convenience and necessity.” The FCC will focus on “demonstrable and verifiable public interest benefits that could not be achieved if there were no merger.” So, does Comcast + Time Warner Cable = public interest? Here’s what the companies claim.

  • How much more do regulators need to know before they understand that the proposed Comcast-Time Warner Cable merger is bad news all around? It’s bad for consumers, competition, and our very democracy.

  • On April 11, the Benton Foundation responded to the Federal Communications Commission’s request for public comment on how to preserve an Open Internet in the wake of this year’s ruling by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit which struck down some of the FCC’s Open Internet (or “network neutrality”) rules. Benton strongly believes that Open Internet rules are necessary for the Internet to continue to be a boon to commerce and our democracy, and they remain an important policy goal of the FCC. It is particularly important to enact strong Open Internet rules because of the disproportionate impact of an ISP’s discriminatory behavior on vulnerable populations, such as people of color, low-income populations, seniors, people with disabilities, and rural communities.

  • On March 31, 2014, Public Knowledge, along with the New America Foundation’s Open Technology Institute and the Benton Foundation, told the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) that AT&T’s plans to test its new services on consumers must include more thorough data collection plans and more robust consumer protections.

  • The newly released Pew Research Center’s report, “Older Adults and Technology Use,” shows substantial forward movement in Internet use and broadband adoption by America’s senior population. However, given the increasingly important role that this 21st century technology plays in all of our lives, it is troubling that 41 percent of seniors still do not use the Internet (compared to 14 percent of all adults), and that 53 percent do not have broadband access where they live (all adults: 30 percent). The Benton Foundation has been working with Senior Service America, Inc. (SSAI) to address the challenges of bringing senior non-Internet users online. This latest Pew research reaffirms what we’re finding in our work.

  • On March 26, the Pew Research Center released State of the News Media 2014, the eleventh annual report by the Pew Research Center examining the landscape of American journalism. The study includes special reports about the revenue picture for news, the growth in digital reporting, the role of acquisitions and content sharing in local news and how digital video affects the news landscape. In addition, it provides the latest data on audience, economic, news investment and ownership trends for key sectors of news media.

  • For communities that don’t yet have access to high speed broadband, prospects that they will soon have fiber as an option are not good.

  • Turns out, in our National Broadband Plan, and in every national broadband plan around the world, there are four strategies that dominate: 1) Driving fiber deeper; 2) Using spectrum more efficiently; 3) Getting everyone online; and 4) Using the platform to improve delivery of public goods. So, on the 4th anniversary of the release of the National Broadband Plan, the right question is are we improving in executing on those 4 strategies?

  • In a few weeks (April 22, to be exact), the Supreme Court of the United States will hear oral arguments in one of the most important intellectual property cases in recent years. Depending on who you believe, the case could endanger or even destroy free over-the-air broadcasting or it could imperil the development of cloud computing and threatening the very underpinnings of the emerging digital economy. Or perhaps neither, since this case, American Broadcasting Companies, Inc. v. Aereo, Inc., has been the object of heated hyperbole on all sides. Behind the dry and highly technical arguments in this case is a major controversy over whether Aereo, a small start-up with a few thousand subscribers, can capture and distribute over-the-air TV signals via the Internet.