Wheeler: Benton Legacy Will Live On

Calls Foundation Founder 'Champion of Social Justice'

FCC chairman Tom Wheeler praised Charles Benton Friday as a champion of social justice who improved the lives of those whose access to communications he fought for.

"Charles Benton dedicated his life to ensuring that our communications networks serve everyone regardless of age, race or economic means," Wheeler said in a statement. "He was among the first to recognize that access to communications networks is more than an economic or first amendment issue; it is a social justice issue. Through his own Benton Foundation and through his support of communications policy advocacy and public media organizations, Charles improved the lives of countless numbers of Americans. Charles’ distinctive voice and style will be missed here at the FCC, but his legacy will certainly live on.”

Benton, chairman of the foundation started by his father, William Benton,  died of cancer April 29

"Family, friends, and colleagues remember Charles not just for his many accomplishments, but his passion and enthusiasm; his values and persistent vision; his positive attitude, indomitable spirit and continuous optimism," said Benton executive editor Kevin Taglang, who passed along these tributes:

“The world feels emptier today,” said Bill Moyers, “like the forest when a great oak falls. And those of us whose lives were touched by Charles are a little lonelier knowing he is gone. What an enthusiast he was for things that mattered to democracy and humanity.”

“I am heartbroken at this loss of a friend and dauntless public interest champion,” said Michael Copps, former FCC chairman and commissioner who is now special adviser to Common Cause’s Media and Democracy Reform Initiative. “He did America proud.”