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Smithsonian turns away filmmakers

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December 19, 2006|From the Associated Press

Two filmmakers were refused access to the Smithsonian Institution's collections for their projects but researchers generally have not been restricted so far by the Smithsonian's semi-exclusive deal with a cable network, congressional investigators said.

The public has justifiable concerns nonetheless about the 30-year contract between the Smithsonian and Showtime Networks Inc., a cable network owned by CBS Corp., according to the Government Accountability Office.

"It is too early to determine the long-term impact of the contract," Congress' investigative arm said in a report Friday. "Access to the Smithsonian's collections and staff for research purposes remains unchanged, but the direct impact on filmmakers will depend largely on how many request permission to use a substantial amount of Smithsonian content."

The GAO also criticized the Smithsonian for not providing enough information to the public about the contract and for assuring filmmakers that their access would not suffer.

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