Smithsonian Signs First Carriage Deal

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After a rocky path of fits and starts, Showtime's high-definition Smithsonian Channel has signed its first carriage agreement, gaining distribution on satellite carrier DirecTV beginning September 26.

The product of Smithsonian Networks, a joint venture between the pay cable network and the D.C. institution, the linear network of cultural and historical fare will be carried on channel 267 on DirecTV's HD Xtra Pack, which reaches about 16 million U.S. customers. The channel will launch with about 75 hours of programming, with the goal of building to 100 by the end of the year and doubling that by August 2008.

Showtime hoped to announce carriage deals earlier in the summer, but has had difficulty convincing operators to sign on.

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