PBS' Kerger Wary of Showtime, Smithsonian Deal


New PBS President-CEO Paula Kerger expressed concern Wednesday over a joint venture between Showtime Networks and the Smithsonian Institute to form Smithsonian Networks, which will develop museum-based TV series for multiple platforms.

Kerger says the Smithsonian “is an archive for the American public” and she wants to ensure the material remains available to everyone, “not just Showtime.”

The museum, she notes, “has not been so forthcoming” about explaining to her the limitations of what she describes as a “complicated” deal.

Under the plan, the first service will be Smithsonian On Demand, which will include documentaries, events and short-form content.
Programming will be culled from the Smithsonian’s assets, such as its scientific and scholarly research centers and editorial content from its magazines.

The service is slated to launch in December 2006 with up to 40 hours of programming, refreshed monthly for multichannel distributors' on-demand-enabled households.