Benton Editorial

Our Deepest Gratitude to Media Access Project

The public interest community and media reform movement suffered a major body blow today, when the Media Access Project (MAP) announced it will suspend operation next month. I personally have looked to my friend and colleague Andy Schwartzman for leadership and guidance on media policy issues for more than three decades. Under his tenure, MAP has been at the forefront of major telecommunications and media policy fights, always with the mission of representing the public interest.

Keeping Low-Income Consumers in Mind While Reviewing the Verizon Spectrum Buy

Back in December 2011, Verizon Wireless and some of the largest cable TV companies in the US announced a transaction in which Verizon will pay the cable companies $3.6 billion for wireless spectrum. With that spectrum, Verizon can build what amounts to another LTE network parallel to its current 4G network at 700 MHZ.

Weekly Digest

The Awesome Power of Information Infrastructure -- And You

From the desk of
Michael Copps

Today I begin a monthly blog for the Benton Foundation. I’m excited about doing this and thank my friend Charles Benton for the opportunity to share my thoughts with Benton’s faithful readers.

American Hate Radio: How A Powerful Outlet For Democratic Discourse Has Deteriorated Into Hate, Racism and Extremism

For over a century we have used the radio waves to communicate with our neighbors. Even today radio remains the primary way that Americans consume media, reaching 93% of the American population on a weekly basis. Radio can be an excellent outlet for news, democratic discourse, community engagement and even life-saving emergency information, and, in many instances, it is just that.

FCC Must Reach Out On Upcoming Changes to Lifeline Telecom Program

By the end of this month, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is expected to issue new rules aimed at reforming and modernizing the low-income Lifeline telephone program. The rules are expected to include many changes to the application process. It will also update the annual check-in which determines continued eligibility for the program.

Whether the FCC succeeds in this effort will depend on whether the reform order includes an extensive education and outreach component to explain the changes. Planning must start now.

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.

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