Charles Benton

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Charles Benton, is the Chairman and Trustee of the Benton Foundation and former commission member of the Gore Commission.

"Charles Benton is also Chairman of Public Media Incorporated, a film and video publisher and distributor. He has led the Foundation through its evolution from a grantmaking to an operating foundation devoted generally to the field of communications. In 1978, President Carter appointed Charles as chairman of the National Commission on Libraries and Information Science and as chairman of the first White House Conference on Library and Information Services, held in November 1979. In 1980, he was re-appointed for an additional 5-year-term, during which time he was elected chairman emeritus by unanimous vote of NCLIS commissioners.

"From the fall of 1997 to December of 1998, Charles was a member of the Presidential Advisory Committee on Public Interest Obligations of Digital Television Broadcasters, also referred to as the "Gore Commission", whose final report was submitted to the Vice President on December 18, 1998. The Benton Foundation was designated by the co-chairs to serve as a home of the Advisory Committee legacy, acting as an institutional memory and tracking the debate on and progress of the Advisory Committee's report and recommendations." [1]

"One colleague refers to Benton as "the single most important force in helping and encouraging foundations to understand the role of media and media policy in contemporary society." Under his leadership, the William Benton Foundation became the Benton Foundation in 1981, with the mission "to articulate a public interest vision for the digital age and to demonstrate the value of communications for solving social problems."" [2]

In an interview in 2004 Benton noted that:

"When we started the Benton Foundation in 1981, I don't think that communications were on the philanthropic agenda at all. We were a small foundation and started with $8 million in assets. We have now built an institution and still have an endowment of about $10 million, which I'm quite proud of. But we made a commitment early on, recognizing that our resources are small, but that our fundamental idea of communications in the public interest is huge. So we decided to work in support of philanthropy, and particularly the Council on Foundations, to try to beat the drum and raise the cry about the importance of communications to both foundations and their grantees.
"Perhaps our largest contribution has been to help raise consciousness about the importance of communications to philanthropy. Obviously, many people contributed to that, but we were involved early on." [3]

"In 1978, President Carter appointed Mr. Benton as chairman of the National Commission on Libraries and Information Science and as chairman of the First White House Conference on Library and Information Services, held in November of 1979. In 1980, he was reappointed for an additional five-year term, during which time he was elected chairman emeritus by unanimous vote of NCLIS commissioners. In the fall of 1997, he was appointed by President Clinton as a member of the Presidential Advisory Committee on "The Public Interest Obligations of Digital Television Broadcasters." The Benton Foundation was appointed as the legatee for the Committee's report and recommendations that were submitted to Vice President Gore on December 18, 1998.

"Throughout his career, Mr. Benton has been an active board member and advisor for organizations in the arts, education and communications, including service on the original Illinois Arts Council Board, the Illinois Humanities Council and currently as chairman of the Cultural Collections Committee and board member of the Field Museum. He has served on the boards of the Eisenhower Exchange Fellowships and The American Assembly for more than 30 years, and was a trustee of the University of Chicago, Hampton Institute, and National College of Education for numerous terms. In film and television, Mr. Benton was a member of the founding board of the American Film Institute, served on the board of Chicago's major public television station (WTTW) for 10 years, and was president of the National Citizen Committee for Broadcasting in the 1970s...

"He is married to Marjorie Craig Benton and they have three children: Adrianne Furniss, Craig and Scott, and four grandchildren." [1]

" Charles Benton has spent his lifetime working in the field of public interest communications as a businessman and foundation president. He is currently the president and chairman of the Benton Foundation and chairman of Public Media Inc., a film and video publisher and distributor. Throughout his tenure as president, Mr. Benton has successfully established the Benton Foundation as a leading advocate for communications in the public interest.

"Beginning with his work at Encyclopedia Britannica Films and as president at the Encyclopedia Britannica Education Corporation, Mr. Benton has established himself firmly in the field of educational, informational, cultural, and entertainment media. He has experience managing various holdings, including Public Media Inc., Films Inc., Home Vision, and Lionheart Television Inc., which distributed BBC, ABC Australia, and several independent producers to public and commercial stations around the country...

"In film and television, Mr. Benton served on the founding board of the American Film Institute, for ten years served on the board of Chicago's major public television station, WTTW, and served as president of the National Citizen Committee for Broadcasting in the early 1970s.

"In 1975, after Mr. Benton had been named president of the William Benton Foundation, the Foundation initiated and provided a $200,000 grant to the League of Women Voters to organize televised presidential forums in 1976 during the primaries. These forums led to the televised presidential debates sponsored by the League later in 1976--the first held since the Nixon-Kennedy debates in 1960." [2]

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