Press Release Archives

Charles Benton Sworn in to serve on IMLS Board

Washington, DC— Yesterday, Associate Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg administered the oath
of office, officially swearing in eight new members of the National Museum and Library
Services Board appointed by President Barack Obama. The board is the advisory body for the
Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS). Members of the board are selected to serve
based on their expertise and commitment to libraries or museums.

IMLS Director Susan Hildreth said, “I am delighted to welcome Mr. Charles Benton to the
board. Through his service he will help libraries and museums throughout the United States
contribute to the educational, cultural and civic life of our nation. Mr. Benton is a well-
recognized expert and we are looking forward to having his strategic advice to strengthen
IMLS’s grant making, research and policy advisory roles.”

Charles Benton has been the Chairman and Trustee of the Benton Foundation since 1981. He
also currently serves on the boards of the Educational Development Center in Boston, and
the Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago, where he was named a Lifetime Trustee.
In addition to his work on these boards, Mr. Benton previously was president or chairman of
the Encyclopedia Britannica Education Corporation; Public Media, Inc.; Films Inc.; Home
Vision Entertainment; and the Partnership for a Connected Illinois. In recognition of his work
in the media and telecommunications fields, Mr. Benton has previously received presidential
appointments to serve as Chairman of the National Commission on Libraries and Information
Science, Chairman of the First White House Conference on Library and Information Services,
and Member of the Presidential Advisory Committee on the Public Interest Obligations of
Digital Television Broadcasters. Mr. Benton received a B.A. from Yale University.

For more information about the National Museum and Library Services Board visit the
Institute’s Web site at www.imls.gov/about/board.shtm.

About the National Museum and Library Services Board
The National Museum and Library Services Board is an advisory body that includes the
director and deputy directors of Institute of Museum and Library Service and twenty
presidentially appointed members of the general public who have demonstrated expertise in,
or commitment to, library or museum services. Informed by its collectively vast experience
and knowledge, the Board advises the IMLS director on general policy and practices, and on
selections for the National Medals for Museum and Library Service.

About the Institute of Museum and Library Services

The Institute of Museum and Library Services is the primary source of federal support for
the nation’s 123,000 libraries and 17,500 museums. Our mission is to inspire libraries and
museums to advance innovation, lifelong learning, and cultural and civic engagement. Our
grant making, policy development and research help libraries and museums deliver valuable
services that make it possible for communities and individuals to thrive. Follow us on Twitter
@US_IMLS

Broadband at the Speed of Light

The fastest networks in the nation are built by local governments, a new report by the Institute for Local Self-Reliance and Benton Foundation reveals

Chattanooga, Tennessee, is well known for being the first community with citywide access to a “gig,” or the fastest residential connections to the Internet available nationally. Less known are Bristol, Virginia, and Lafayette, Louisiana – both of which now also offer a gigabit throughout the community.

A new report just released by the Institute for Local Self-Reliance (ILSR) and the Benton Foundation explains how these communities have built some of the best broadband networks in the nation.

“It may surprise people that these cities in Virginia, Tennessee, and Louisiana have faster and lower cost access to the Internet than anyone in San Francisco, Seattle, or any other major city,” says Christopher Mitchell, Director of ILSR’s Telecommunications as Commons Initiative. “These publicly owned networks have each created hundreds of jobs and saved millions of dollars.”

“Communities need 21st century telecommunications infrastructure to compete in the global economy,” said Charles Benton, Chairman & CEO of the Benton Foundation. “Hopefully, this report will resonate with local government officials across the country.”

Mitchell is a national expert on community broadband networks and was recently named a “Top 25 Doer, Dreamer, and Driver” by Government Technology. He also regularly authors articles at MuniNetworks.org.

The new report offers in-depth case studies of BVU Authority’s OptiNet in Bristol, Virginia; EPB Fiber in Chattanooga, Tennessee; and LUS Fiber in Lafayette, Louisiana. Each network was built and is operated by a public power utility.

Mitchell believes these networks are all the more important given the slow pace of investment from major carriers. According to Mitchell, “As AT&T and Verizon have ended the expansion of U-Verse and FiOS respectively, communities that need better networks for economic development should consider how they can invest in themselves.”

About ILSR: Institute for Local Self-Reliance (ILSR) proposes a set of new rules that builds community by supporting humanly scaled politics and economics. The Telecommunications as Commons Initiative believes that telecommunications networks are essential infrastructure and should be accountable to residents and local businesses. www.ilsr.org,

About Benton: The Benton Foundation works to ensure that media and telecommunications serve the public interest and enhance our democracy. We pursue this mission by seeking policy solutions that support the values of access, diversity and equity, and by demonstrating the value of media and telecommunications for improving the quality of life for all. www.Benton.org

Download Broadband At the Speed of Light: How Three Communities Built Next-Generation Networks

Benton Applauds the Federal Communication Commission for Updates to the Lifeline Program

On Tuesday, January 31, 2012, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) announced adopted rules to reform the Lifeline program. The following statement can be attributed to Benton Foundation* Policy Counsel Amina Fazlullah:

“At a time of nationwide economic stress, when a number of families are facing unemployment and homelessness, Lifeline ensures that these families are able to maintain a connection to potential employers, educational resources, government services and healthcare providers.

The Benton Foundation is extremely pleased that the FCC, under Chairman Genachowski’s leadership, has followed through with significant consumer-focused improvements to the Lifeline and Link Up programs. With today’s order the FCC takes important steps to streamline the program, create savings, and modernize it for our increasingly broadband-dependent world.

Benton highlights these key decisions made today:

  • Clarifying the eligibility definition of household to fall in line with standards used by other government programs. Utilizing the economic unit definition of household will aid in effective deployment, take up, and certification. This definition removes doubt that Americans who have lost their homes and are living in shelters or with friends and family can, in fact, benefit from Lifeline support.
  • Providing support for consumer education and awareness campaigns. The order requires Eligible Telecommunications Carriers (ETCs) to provide robust materials and support to educate Lifeline eligible consumers of the program offerings and requirements. We look forward to reading the order language to learn more about the punitive measures to be weighed against ETCs that fail to comply with the requirement.
  • Implementing broadband adoption pilot projects. As Commissioner Clyburn correctly noted today, these pilot projects should have begun two years ago. Nevertheless we are looking forward to the application process for pilots and are especially pleased that the Commission will be compiling data from a broad swath of sources before beginning their final analysis.
  • Allowing consumers the option of bundled services. Opening up the use of the monthly subsidy to bundled service offerings provides Lifeline participants with an option to access broadband service. While it’s important to note that most low-income families will have a tough time footing the difference in the monthly bill, we recognize this is a solid first step that adjusts the program to include more than just voice services.
  • Waiting to create a constrained budget or cap on the program until after the transition to include broadband is finished. Lifeline, a small part of the billion dollar Universal Service Fund (USF), is the only program that provides direct support to consumers. To constrain Lifeline could critically wound the nascent transition to include broadband.

We thank the FCC for its hard work and for listening closely to the voices of consumers when crafting this order.

* The Benton Foundation is a nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting communication in the public interest. This statement reflects the institutional view of the Foundation and, unless obvious from the text, is not intended to reflect the views of individual Foundation officers, directors, or advisors.