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

  • Aug 26 2014

    Saying that the Comcast-Time Warner transfers and spin-offs puts Public, Educational and Government (PEG) access television at risk, American Community Television (ACT), filed comments in the Federal Communications Commission proceeding to review the transactions.

  • Aug 26 2014

    The Comcast/TWC deal poses vertical harms, horizontal harms, and spot cable ad market harms that need more than arbitration to remedy. That was the message from the American Cable Association to the Federal Communications Commission in comments on the proposed merger of Comcast and Time Warner Cable.

  • Aug 26 2014

    Broadcast and cable television companies are pushing back against the Federal Communications Commission’s new plans for emergency alert messages. The National Cable and Telecommunications Association and the National Association of Broadcasters told the FCC that its new proposed guidelines for the text that crawls at the top of the screen during a flood, snowstorm or other emergency aren’t necessary and could be expensive.

  • Aug 26 2014

    Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti is asking the Federal Communications Commission to examine the stalemate between Time Warner Cable and other pay-TV operators that's prevented much of the region from watching Dodgers baseball this season.

  • Aug 26 2014

    Chris Henderson is an outstanding choice to lead USAC. His selection reflects the extensive and thorough search process conducted by the Universal Service Administrative Company (USAC) Board.

  • Aug 26 2014

    If the Federal Communications Commission has its way, the E-rate no longer will support voice services within the next five years, including plain old telephone service, toll-free service, and even voice over IP (VoIP).

  • Aug 26 2014

    Kevin Counihan has been named the first CEO of Healthcare.gov, which serves residents of states that opted not to create their own online insurance marketplaces.

  • Aug 26 2014

    The interconnection market might be complicated and opaque to most of us, but it's a vital part of our Internet experience.

  • Aug 26 2014

    Access Humboldt filed comments supporting Public, Education and Government access (PEG) and the role of local franchise authorities as the Federal Communications Commission considers Comcast’s acquisition of Time Warner Cable.

  • Aug 26 2014

    Comcast said in a Securities and Exchange Commission filing that it now expects to gain the necessary regulatory approvals for unionist acquisition of Time warner Cable in early 2015.

Blog

  • On August 7, the FCC released an order asking the Federal-State Joint Board on Universal Service to provide recommendations on how the FCC should modify the universal service contribution methodology. The Joint Board, for those scoring at home, was created by provisions in the Telecommunications Act of 1996 and first established in March 1996 to make recommendations to implement the universal service provisions of the 1996 Act. The Joint Board is comprised of FCC Commissioners, State Utility Commissioners, and a consumer advocate representative.

  • More than a million citizens have contacted the Federal Communications Commission demanding genuine network neutrality. We know a healthy democracy demands an Open Internet. Last week the President of the United States also weighed in against a fast-lane/slow-lane Internet. Two conclusions stand out: (1) no new arguments have been ginned up by the big Internet Service Providers (ISPs) like Comcast, Verizon and AT&T that lend a whit of credibility to their entrenched opposition to strong net neutrality rules; and (2) growing grassroots support for a truly open Internet is commanding attention at the highest levels of government.

  • August in Washington (DC) is hot and muggy. Especially in an election year, denizens abandon the city and policy news generally grinds to a halt. But when the future of the Internet is at stake, there’s no break in the news.

  • Although the Federal Communications Commission adopted many changes to the E-rate program on July 11, 2014, the FCC also launched a new proceeding – a Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking – seeking public comment on additional issues. Specifically, the FCC seeks input on the future funding needs of the E-rate program; discrete issues that may further simplify the administration of the E-rate program; promoting cost-effective purchasing through multi-year contracts and consortium purchasing; and how best to calculate the amount of funding eligible libraries need in order to purchase Wi-Fi networks and other internal connections.

  • This week the New York Times reported on an explosion of spending on political advertising on television. The explosion is “accelerating the rise of moneyed interests and wresting control from the candidates’ own efforts to reach voters,” Ashley Parker reported. On July 31, the Campaign Legal Center, Common Cause and the Sunlight Foundation (represented by the Institute for Public Representation of Georgetown University Law Center) called on the Federal Communications Commission to extend to cable and satellite systems the requirement that their political files be posted on the FCC’s online database.

  • The third major goal adopted by the Federal Communications Commission in the latest E-rate reform proceeding is to make the E-rate application process (and other E-rate processes) fast, simple and efficient.

  • Maximizing the benefit of each dollar spent on telecommunications services for schools and libraries and minimizing the contribution burden on consumers and businesses is a major goal adopted by the Federal Communications Commission in its July 23 E-rate order. The FCC is aiming to drive down costs for the services and equipment needed to deliver high-speed broadband connectivity to and within schools and libraries. And, the FCC concludes, E-rate applicants need more information about purchasing decisions. The FCC changed E-rate rules to increase pricing transparency, encourage consortium purchasing and amend its lowest corresponding price (LCP) rule to clarify that potential service providers must offer eligible schools, libraries and consortia the LCP.

  • It is easy to conflate peering and paid prioritization. Recently, Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and Rep. Doris Matsui (D-CT) introduced bills in both chambers of Congress to ban so-called paid prioritization. Coverage by the New York Times pointed out that the bills ban “deals similar to the recent agreement that allows Netflix to connect directly to Comcast’s system to avoid network congestion.” However, that is not strictly true. The proposed Online Competition and Consumer Choice Act of 2014 (S. 2476 and H.R. 4880) prohibits “paid prioritization” as understood in the Federal Communications Commission’s conventional discourse on net neutrality. The bills do not explicitly deal with interconnection, or peering arrangements such as the Netflix-Comcast deal. Similarly, in its Open Internet rules, the FCC has so far focused on regulating the potential harms of last-mile paid prioritization rather than that of paid peering/ interconnection. As the FCC reviews the recent flood of net neutrality comments, regulators should be mindful of rhetoric-masked, bad arguments that overlook the nuances between the two.

  • On July 23, the Federal Communications Commission released its report and order on “Modernizing the E-rate Program for Schools and Libraries,” an effort to reorient the E-rate program to focus on high-speed broadband for U.S. schools and libraries. Tomorrow we’ll look at how the FCC aims to maximize the cost-effectiveness of spending for E-rate supported purchases. We’ll also explore soon making the E-rate application process and other E-rate processes fast, simple and efficient. And then we’ll look at the FCC’s new proceeding on meeting the future funding needs of the E-rate program in light of the program's new goals.

  • FCC Chairman Wheeler said the FCC will “look for opportunities to enhance Internet access competition” and highlighted a recommendation to lift legal restrictions on the ability of cities and towns to offer broadband services to consumers in their communities. This week saw a major development on this front. Chattanooga (TN) and Wilson (NC) simultaneously petitioned the FCC to pre-empt laws in their states that ban the cities from expanding their high-speed Internet networks.