Charles Benton, 84, chairman of the board of the Benton Foundation, died Wednesday, according to an email from his family. He had cancer.
The Benton Foundation is a nonprofit dedicated to media in the public interest. Among its focuses is universal, affordable broadband, a mission it shares with the current FCC chairman and resident of the White House.
Benton was the son of foundation founder William Benton. He was named chairman in 1981. Benton was a member of the FCC's Consumer Advisory Committee on the DTV transition, which recommended new broadcast public-interest obligations in the digital age. Benton was a leading proponent for those obligations.
In 2013, Adrianne Benton Furniss, Charles Benton's daughter and a veteran media marketing, distribution and management exec at Sesame Workshop and Home Vision Entertainment, was named executive director of the foundation.
“We are deeply saddened to learn of the passing of Charles Benton," said Craig Aaron, president of Free Press, which shares many Benton's policy position. "He was a pioneer in the movement for better media and a stalwart ally in countless fights to bring the benefits of technology to everyone.
"He dedicated his life to the public interest and shared his wisdom and passion with many of us who follow in his footsteps. We’ll miss his contributions to the vital debate about strengthening the media and our democracy. We offer our deepest condolences to his family and the staff of the Benton Foundation."