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

  • Apr 29 2016

    Digital TV listing company Rovi is buying TiVo in a cash-and-stock deal valued at about $1.1 billion.

  • Apr 29 2016

    A new nationwide poll, “Crossing the New Digital Divide: Connecting to Mobile Economic Empowerment,” identifies a significant gap between African-Americans’ enthusiastic ...

  • Apr 29 2016

    In such moments you are most likely checking Facebook. More of you will be doing that than tweeting, searching on Google, checking stock prices on Yahoo or reading articles like this. And that constant lure, a fix you can easily satisfy both on a phone and a desktop computer, explains why Facebook is pulling ahead of every other large technology company right now.

  • Apr 29 2016

    Former Montana Sen Conrad Burns (R-MT), a former cattle auctioneer whose folksy demeanor and political acumen earned him three terms and the bitter disdain of his opponents, died April 28. He was 81.

  • Apr 29 2016

    News didn't always travel as fast as it does today in 140-character dispatches, but the media have always hovered around shiny objects. It's important to point this out because President Obama and his aides like to promote the self-serving idea that they have it harder than pre-meme administrations

  • Apr 29 2016

    Verizon workers on the East Coast are continuing to strike after the company gave unions what it called its “last, best and final” offer. The drama played out on April 28 weeks into a strike that has been nationally prominent and drawn the attention of Democratic presidential candidates.

  • Apr 29 2016

    Small and midsized cable operators say nothing in the National Association of Broadcasters opposition changes their request that the Federal Communications Commission make certain broadcast retransmission negotiations de facto violations of its good faith standard.

  • Apr 29 2016

    Rural operators could find it easier to obtain spectrum licenses in the citizens broadband radio service (CBRS) band as the result of CBRS auction plans adopted by the Federal Communications Commission at April 28's commission meeting.

  • Apr 29 2016

    The business press is all atwitter with merger news, as federal regulators are set to approve a massive deal between cable giants Charter, Time Warner and Bright House Networks. We are on a 100-city tour of the United States, going from city to city, hosting fundraisers for community media outlets and broadcasting the news as we travel. Our travels confirm that a thriving, vibrant community media sector exists, serving the public interest, free from the demands to turn a profit at any cost.

  • Apr 29 2016

    Your eligibility to perform secret government work could one day be decided by a number that looks like a credit score, and factors in your social media activities. According to the head of the new US security clearance agency, the idea is to regularly vet individuals with access to classified information on their likelihood to go rogue, as one would be rated on their likelihood to default on a loan.

Blog

  • It was a busy week for telecommunications policy. The Federal Communications Commission held its April Open Meeting, and Congress had some legislation move along, including the E-mail Privacy Act. Below, we take a sampling of this week’s potpourri.

  • Today marks the first anniversary of Charles Benton’s death. You may have known Charles because you met him at a conference or you spoke on the phone or you read one of his articles. Tall, large of voice, possessed of dazzling grin and intractable hair, Charles naturally drew considerable attention. He was the Benton Foundation for many people. Over the past 12 months, there has been an incredible outpouring of love, support, and fond memories of Charles. My colleagues and I have had the pleasure of traveling around the country to be part of many celebrations of Charles’ – and the foundation’s – contributions. Although one might be tempted to call all this the Charles Benton Memorial Tour, for me, it has actually been a listening tour – hearing not just about what various people and groups admired about Charles, but also about their concerns and priorities as the country considers who will be leading us in the years to come. This year, I’ve been thinking about "Digital Deserts." Despite great gains in achieving universal broadband, a number of “Digital Deserts” persist in the U.S. Many communities and households still do not have broadband service. We want to offer policy recommendations that will transform these deserts into oases of opportunity, and connect them to affordable, reliable, high-capacity broadband. I’m so encouraged by the Federal Communications Commission’s decision to expand Lifeline support to include broadband service, making sure that millions of American families will no longer have to choose between buying groceries or paying for the connectivity that, for instance, allows their children to complete their homework assignments. But much more work needs to be done. I believe that broadband is a key instrument in addressing economic insecurity.

  • When Benjamin Franklin created the first lending library in America almost three hundred years ago, he established an institution committed to letting loose the transformational power of knowledge. To this day, public libraries stand committed to the principle that information should be available to all, regardless of where you live, how much you earn, or when you were born. Increasingly libraries provide some of that information online, through free access to ebooks, original documents like the New York Public Library’s high-definition scan of Thomas Jefferson’s Declaration of Independence, and even software that you can borrow virtually through the Kansas City Public Library. All of these efforts depend on affordable, accessible Internet service.

  • On April 19, the House Subcommittee on Communications and Technology marked up several telecommunications bills including the Controlling the Unchecked and Reckless Ballooning of Lifeline Act (or the Lifeline CURB Act (H.R.4884), if you’re scoring at home). The subcommittee approved the bill by a final vote of 17-11 along party lines, with Republican members of the subcommittee supporting the measure.

  • Researchers and policymakers have largely forgotten prisoners when considering universal Internet access and the Digital Divide. These inmates are, by default, digitally excluded during their incarcerations, denying them access to a potentially potent tool for improving rehabilitation and decreasing recidivism.

  • Two important communication bills are winding their way through the House: On April 13, the House Communications Subcommittee held a hearing on seven (seven!) communications bills. One of those bills, The Controlling the Unchecked and Reckless Ballooning of the Lifeline Fund Act (CURB Lifeline) (HR 4884) seeks to impose a hard budget cap on the Lifeline program. Separately, the full House this week considered The No Rate Regulation of Broadband Internet Access Act (HR 2666), which would prevent the Federal Communications Commission from imposing rate regulations on broadband service. But some fear the bill would go far beyond blocking telephone-style rate regulations, gutting the FCC’s authority to enforce its Open Internet rules.

  • Although the Federal Communications Commission has not yet released a report and order on its decision to modernize the Lifeline program, we wanted to share a quick summary of the decision. Below, please find a great summary from Anthony L. Butler, a Consumer Education & Outreach Specialist in the Consumer Affairs & Outreach Division of the FCC's Consumer Governmental Affairs Bureau. The Benton Foundation will share a more detailed summary of the historic decision after the report and order is released.

  • On March 31, on a party-line 3-2 vote, the Federal Communications Commission proposed to adopt new rules designed to provide privacy protections for customers of Internet service providers. The FCC’s wide-ranging Notice of Proposed Rulemaking asks hundreds of questions as to how it should shape these requirements. There has already been considerable news coverage concerning the scope and details of these rules, and there will be much more debate as the Commission’s inquiry proceeds over the coming months. However, there has been less discussion about the underlying legal issues which made it necessary for the FCC to initiate this proceeding and the questions about whether the FCC can, indeed, adopt the rules it has proposed.

  • This week, the Federal Communications Commission will vote on a proposal that will make broadband Internet service more affordable for millions of low-income consumers. For these people who are some of the most vulnerable in our society, the FCC will be providing a lifeline to opportunity.

  • NTIA finds gain in Internet use, but as we know, especially for broadband, cost of service remains the major barrier to adoption. As the FCC considers how to employ its Lifeline program to address this barrier, we’ve entered the final stage of the debate.