Has anyone heard about this? The Smithsonian and their exclusive contract with Showtime

I'm listening to Fox & Friends, and catching some of the chatter, and I just heard about the Smithsonian signing an exclusive contract with Showtime networks. Apparently Fox has been denied a permit to shoot in the Smithsonian for their "war stories" program because of this exclusive agreement.

The New York Times has more details:
As the recent coupling between the Smithsonian Institution and Showtime Networks continues to roil the documentary film world, more than 215 filmmakers, television executives and academics have signed a letter demanding that the Smithsonian, a publicly financed museum, not only reveal financial details of the joint venture but also abandon it.


The uproar was set off last month when Showtime and the Smithsonian announced the creation of Smithsonian Networks, a joint venture for original television programming on scientific, cultural and historical subjects whose first service would be an on-demand cable channel beginning this December. As part of the deal, Smithsonian Networks was to get the right of first refusal on commercial documentaries that relied significantly on the museum's archives, curators or scientists.

Read that all here. Of even greater concern is that the exact details of this contract are "secret" and it won't be released for scrutiny. What are filmmakers saying about it? Check out what documentarian Ken Burns has to say about it over at the American Historical Association:
But a chorus of independent filmmakers and SI collections users, including Ken Burns, producer of many award-winning PBS series such as Jazz and The Civil War and Laurie Kahn-Leavitt, producer of the awardwinning film Tupperware! have protested vehemently against the arrangement. These critics contend that it unreasonably restricts access to the institution's scientists, archives, objects, and collections. Burns said, "I find this deal terrifying," and Leavitt declared, "I think this is obscene. . . . I am not against them having a deal with Showtime that is lucrative, but the archives are for the public to use."
Read that article here.

Yes, I know I weighed in to allow caucuses to be closed in a previous article, but those are legislative discussions. These are our national treasures - our collective history - and they're being closed off from use and study on the basis of a for-profit contract.

Write your senators. Write your congressmen. This cannot be allowed to continue. The history belongs to all of us - not just those who can afford to pay.


Anonymous said…
Can't wait to see how the libs defend this one.
Anonymous said…
National Public Radio ran a week of stories about this topic about 10 months ago. I am sure that you can listen to the audio streams on their website.
Anonymous said…
O- This is SO, VERY, WRONG!!!

No buts about this one. WE the people will and would lose out. Can't you just hear how things will be re-invented to the "other" side of history. The side that does NOT tell the whole truth.

If this continues pull the plug on monies and demand reimbursement of our tax dollars from the get go. Where in the world is the policy book. I'm sure if covers public access with all the rules and regs.

You really have to scratch your head on some of the wild and wacky. 9:15 has a point.
Anonymous said…
How did this become a liberal/conservative fight? I see no mention of any liberal or conservative plots.
the taxpayer said…
This is a great example of buracratic institutional arrogance. This is what happens when the people we elect to oversee them don't do their job well. The buracrats get out of control. Look at the Regents, public school administration, Municipal League, game fish and parks, all the way down to the hwy dept. Elected officials need to scrutinize them, not be their cronies and buds.
Anonymous said…
I'm going to have to agree with Anon 10:14 - Any time you have PBS and Fox News on the same side of an issue, you know that this is NOT a Liberal/Conservative fight (and PBS was complaining about this last May). As a self professed liberal, I see this as an abhorrent breach of the public trust. Our tax dollars pay for the Smithsonian. It is a public institution and its resources, research and scientists should be available to ALL Americans (and by extension, all American Companies).

If they feel they need additional resources, then they should charge fees for Corporations film and use their resources, but signing any contract that contains any kind of exclusivity is absolutely out of the question.
oldguy said…
Has anybody hear what the Gov. spoke about on Fox today?
Anonymous said…
Unfortunately this is all too true. And, it does make Smithsonian videos more expensive for teachers to purchase for usage in our classrooms.
Scott said…
I know many of South Dakota's artifacts are at the Smithsonian because I have seen them - like the balloons launched in Rapid City out of the Stratobowl in the 20's. i.e. "The flight of the Explorer 2, launched from the Stratobowl near Rapid City, South Dakota, marked another end to high­altitude ballooning until the late 1950s"

These artifacts are not only "South Dakota's" but the people of the Unites States of America. Any abuse of these artifacts should be treated as - Grand Larceny - In the United States, larceny is a common law crime involving stealing. Under the common law, larceny is the trespassory asportation and taking of the (tangible) personal property of another with the intent to deprive him or her of it permanently.

My question is this, why should we all have to write our congressmen? Shouldn't one letter be enough? Do we have to convince them this is wrong? Come on, it that is true - we need to get them all out of Washington!

Comment provided by:
Scott Prentice
Anonymous said…
Scott's post @ 7:24p
Made a good point in the last paragraph. Get them out of Washington. On another note he made god points through-out his post.
Stand up people!!!!
Anonymous said…
Sorry that was not "god" points it was "GOOD" points.
Boy am i going to hear it for that one.
The Real News said…
Jeez, how far behind the times are you?

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