Jon Sallet is the new Benton Senior Fellow. Jon's work focuses on policies to preserve and protect internet openness, to advance competition more broadly, including through antitrust, and to support Federal Communications Commission actions to protect privacy, security, and broadband deployment. Jon was the FCC General Counsel/Acting General Counsel (2013-2016), and Deputy Assistant Attorney General for Litigation, Antitrust Division, US Department of Justice (2016-2017).
Press Release Archives
The Federal Communications Commission adopted new media ownership rules. The following statement may be attributed to Benton Foundation Executive Director Adrianne B. Furniss:
The Federal Communications Commission adopted an item on the Lifeline program which makes telecommunications services more affordable for low-income households. The following statement may be attributed to Benton Foundation Adrianne B. Furniss:
Congressman Gregory W. Meeks and Congresswoman Gwen S. Moore led a letter to Federal Communications Commission Chair Ajit Pai expressing concern with recent changes to the Lifeline Program, which provides a modest monthly subsidy of $9.25 to connect low-income Americans to phone and internet service. Representatives Meeks and Moore issued the following statement regarding the letter, which was signed by 56 other House Democrats and supported by groups such as the Benton Foundation, the NAACP, Communications Workers of America, Public Knowledge, and many others.
Contact: Adrianne B. Furniss Pai Lifeline Proposal is Sad for Anyone Who Believes in Truly Universal Service Today, Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai proposed changes to the Lifeline program, which makes telecommunications services, including internet access, more affordable for low-income households. The following may be attributed to Benton Executive Director Adrianne B. Furniss: Intended initially as a mechanism to reduce the cost of phone service for low-income customers, the bipartisan Lifeline program has worked in lockstep with telephone providers and consumers to increase the uptake in phone service throughout the country and has kept pace with changes in technology as the U.S. moved from a wireline world to one where the number of mobile devices and services now exceeds the population to a recognition that broadband internet is an essential communications service. Unfortunately, Chairman Pai’s proposal turns America’s back on our commitment, enshrined in law, to make sure world-class telecommunications are available and affordable for all. By nick and hack, Pai is gutting the only Universal Service Fund program that directly benefits consumers instead of carriers. His changes will mean fewer low-income households are served by fewer competitive options. At the very least, we hope that the FCC will take the time to do an economic analysis around the impact of the proposed changes. Many, many Lifeline recipients are U.S. veterans who fought for our flag. Chairman Pai appears to be waiving the white flag of surrender for their connected future. This is a sad day for anyone who believes in truly universal service.
From the earliest days of broadcasting, federal regulation has sought to foster the provision of programming that meets local communities' needs and interests. The FCC’s rules have been rooted in the core values of localism, competition, and diversity. Any changes in FCC rules should be aimed at expanding the multiplicity of voices and choices that support our marketplace of ideas and that sustain American democracy and creativity.
Adrianne B. Furniss
Benton Foundation Saddened U.S. is Leaving UNESCO
The U.S. Department of State announced on October 12, 2017 that the United States will withdraw from the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). The following statement may be attributed to Benton Foundation Executive Director Adrianne B. Furniss:
Assistant Secretary of State William Benton, my grandfather, played an instrumental role in the creation of UNESCO in the wake of World War II and later served as United States Ambassador to UNESCO from 1963 to 1968. Benton realized that increased international understanding demanded that all people have access to modern means of mass communication, which, at the time, meant newspapers, radio, and motion pictures. The Benton-led American delegation to UNESCO’s charter conference wove Benton’s ideas into the fabric of UNESCO which aimed to facilitate continuous and close international contacts among scientists, teachers, and societies. UNESCO continues to work to ensure every child and citizen has access to quality education, lives in a cultural environment rich in diversity and dialogue, benefits from scientific advances, and enjoys full freedom of expression.
These aims are as important now as they were in 1945. The Benton Foundation and I are saddened that the U.S. is backing away from our ideals and international commitments.
Benton, a non-profit, operating foundation, believes that communications policy—rooted in the values of access, equity, and diversity—has the power to deliver new opportunities and strengthen communities to bridge our divides.
Adrianne B. Furniss
Benton Welcomes New Fellows Jonathan Sallet and Denise Linn Riedl
Adrianne B. Furniss named two new Benton Fellows: former Federal Communications Commission General Counsel Jonathan Sallet and Denise Linn Riedl, Program Analyst for Smart Chicago Collaborative.
Furniss said, “Since 1981, Benton has supported legal and policy experts who preserve and strengthen the public benefits of America’s communications environment, who can nourish and protect democratic values, and who can communicate to the public why this all matters. Denise and Jon will help ensure that more people will participate in the network revolution that is transforming society – and that traditional American values like access, diversity, and equity are upheld in the Digital Age.”
As a Benton Fellow and a civic-driven technology professional with diverse experiences in telecommunications policy and planning, Denise Linn Riedl will write and speak about broadband, digital inclusion, and emerging smart city technologies. She is the co-author, with Blair Levin (the architect of the National Broadband Plan), of The Next Generation Network Connectivity Handbook: A Guide for Community Leaders Seeking Affordable, Abundant Bandwidth, published by the Benton in December 2016.
"I am honored to be selected as a Benton Fellow and help forward important conversations at the intersection of technology, infrastructure, and inclusion," said Riedl. "While the Internet of Things, advanced wireless networks, and other smart city technologies hold so much promise, their deployment also comes with equity and civic engagement challenges. I look forward to highlighting the work of innovative institutions across the country tackling these timely challenges."
As a Benton Senior Fellow, Jon Sallet will write, speak and focus on policies to preserve and protect internet openness, to advance competition more broadly, including through antitrust, and to support FCC actions to protect privacy, security, and broadband deployment. Sallet is a former FCC General Counsel/Acting General Counsel (2013-2016), and Deputy Assistant Attorney General for Litigation, Antitrust Division, US Department of Justice (2016-2017). He is currently a partner at Steptoe & Johnson LLP in Washington, DC.
"Consumers rely on communications networks every day, all day long. The Benton Foundation has long emphasized the importance of broadband in the public interest and I'm honored to be able to contribute to that work," said Sallet.
Jessica Rosenworcel and Brendan Carr were sworn in today as commissioners at the Federal Communications Commission. The following may be attributed to Benton Foundation Executive Director Adrianne B. Furniss:
The Benton Foundation congratulates Commissioners Rosenworcel and Carr as they begin their terms on the Federal Communications Commission. They both bring a wealth of experience to the challenges and opportunities facing the FCC.
Although the ways we communicate appear to change daily, the public interest principles enshrined in our communications laws remain paramount – robust and affordable wired and wireless service available to everyone, everywhere in the United States. As we embrace Internet-based communications and all the innovation it delivers, Benton looks forward to working with Commissioners Rosenworcel and Carr to promote broadband deployment and close the Digital Divide, while protecting consumers, innovation, and competition.
Professors Jeff Pooley and Dwayne Winseck examine claims that the Obama-era Federal Communications Commission failed to ground its regulations in economic reasoning – and find the idea preposterous. What they unearth instead is AT&T-sponsored ‘research’ -- and Pooley and Winseck show how the FCC has been working in earnest to bolster, not sideline, economic analysis.
Instead of a rebuttal, Pooley and Winseck, the University of Southern California, and the International Journal of Communication have received legal threats from AT&T-backed CALinnovates.
See Information Laundering, Economists and Ajit Pai’s Race to Roll-Back the Obama-era FCC’s Net Neutrality Rules at https://www.benton.org/blog/information-laundering-economists-and-ajit-pais-race-roll-back-obama-era-fccs-net-neutrality