Smithsonian is planning to make a concession to critics of its on-demand deal with Showtime by waiving Smithsonian On Demand’s rights of 1st refusal for all non-commercial uses of the Smithsonian collection-including making docs for public TV, Showtime execs told CableFAX. "Ken Burns still would be able to do a ‘Civil War’ series," Showtime programming/production evp David Royle said Mon afternoon. The compromise means a non-commercial documentary/movie that uses Smithsonian archives would not have to be offered to the VOD venture before other networks, like PBS. The venture will retain its right of 1st refusal for all commercial uses of its archive. "Smithsonian has not gotten its just rewards for people using its libraries and archives," Showtime spokesman Stu Zakim said. Critics have carped about the Smithsonian/Showtime partnership for the month-and-a-half since it was 1st announced. More than 200 people, including filmmaker Michael Moore, signed a letter criticizing the deal. On Mon, The Wash Post continued bashing the deal in a harshly worded editorial that criticized the deal’s secrecy (contract details are confidential) and exclusivity (Showtime has the right of 1st refusal for docs that use the Smithsonian collection). Showtime’s Royle complained that criticisms are ignoring the benefits the partnership provides to both independent filmmakers and the Smithsonian. "The irony is that most filmmakers are only too pleased there’s another outlet for their work…We are putting a considerable amount of money into the marketplace to make interesting, worthwhile films," Royle said. As for Smithsonian’s benefits: "Why should Smithsonian not have a TV channel? National Geographic has one," Royle said. The Smithsonian On Demand channels is on schedule to launch in Dec with 40 hours of content. Royle said MSO negotiations were going "very well" so far.

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