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