Weekly Digest

Biggest Day Ever of Online Protest in English

Daily Headlines readers know we devoted lots of digital ink this week to the ongoing debates over the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and the Protect Intellectual Property Act (PIPA) [#SOPA and #PIPA, if you’re Tweeting at home]. Last week, we ended our weekly round-up saying, “The developments on these two bills are likely to be one of the most-watched issues as Congress returns to Washington.” We’re proud to announce we are an early nominee for “Understatement of the Year.”

FCC’s Low-Income Phone Reform Needs to Connect and Tie Eligibility to People, Not Housing

The Federal Communications Commission is poised to reform and modernize the Lifeline phone program that was created to help low-income household afford phone service. The reform and modernization is expected to move the program beyond traditional landline service to better accommodate wireless phone service and to set a foundation to move to broadband access for poor people. Yet, the reform could also discriminate against the very people the program was designed to help.

Lifeline and Link Up Programs for the 21st Century

After years of consideration, the Federal Communications Commission is going to update its Lifeline and Link Up programs for the 21st century. Chairman Julius Genachowski, in a speech January 9, announced his plan to significantly reform the program to include broadband-focused elements and to streamline the legacy voice service program to ensure that it performs efficiently.

Holidays Over – Back to Work (Updated)

The holidays must be over, cause there certainly was a lot going on in telecommunications policy this week. We’ve had our eye on a report exploring federal investment in information infrastructure, a proposal to use the Universal Service Fund to make broadband service more affordable for low-income families, the Supreme Court’s protect of the First Amendment, the introduction of new Internet domain names, and a raging debate on how to deal with foreign websites that steal U.S. copyright material.

Benton Editorial

Looking Back at 2011

As the Benton Foundation closes out our 30th year as an organization dedicated to the ideal of media and telecommunications serving the public interest and enhancing our democracy, here are some thoughts on our major activities during these past twelve months.

PEG Access Centers Closing at Alarming Rate

By Cecilia Garcia

Benton and our friends at the Alliance for Communications Democracy (ACD) wanted to get a feel for the state of public, educational and government (PEG) access across the nation. We wanted to see if PEG channels are realizing the promise and optimism expressed back in 1984 by the House Commerce Committee in a report that set forth the reason why these channels are so important.

Local TV News & Joint Services Agreements

By Danilo Yanich, PhD
University of Delaware

Benton Editorial

Benton Foundation Opposes Proposed AT&T Acquisition of T-Mobile USA

After a review of the purported benefits and early analysis of the proposed acquisition of T-Mobile by AT&T, the Benton Foundation urges the Department of Justice and the Federal Communications Commission to reject a deal that offers no public interest dividend.

First and foremost, the acquisition will combine the 2nd and 4th largest wireless carriers in the US. Undoubtedly, this combination will reduce competition in this market and will result in fewer choices for consumers, higher prices, and less innovation.

Weekly Digest

Tracking the National Broadband Plan -- Universal Service

March 16 marks the one year anniversary of the release of the National Broadband Plan, a multi-year strategy for increasing broadband deployment, adoption and meaningful use throughout the country. Over the last year, the Benton Foundation has been tracking the implementation of the plan and its over 200 recommendations .