The Benton Foundation was the owner of the Encyclopædia Britannica from 1974 until 1996, when it was bought by Jacqui Safra. The formation of the Benton Foundation was announced at the bicentennial banquet for the Britannica in 1968. The mission of the Foundation was re-vamped somewhat in 1981 by Charles Benton, but it has always focused on using media for the public good, particularly for educational purposes.
In recent years, the Foundation has been most famous for its championing of digital access and for demanding public responsibility by mass media. The Benton Foundation has pushed for a national broadband policy at the highest levels of U.S. government. It has also been pushing the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to determine the public interest obligations of digital television broadcasters. Finally, it has sponsored studies that suggest that concentration of media ownership in a few hands is not in the interests of the United States.
On 9 February 2007, Benton Foundation Chairman and CEO Charles Benton received the Susan G. Hadden Pioneer Award from the Alliance for Public Technology for “pioneering efforts in telecommunications and consumer access.”