According to a report in the Washington Post the controversial Smithsonian Networks will begin broadcasting this Wednesday. We previously discussed this venture on AHA Today here (all our Smithsonian posts can be found here). For now, Smithsonian Networks is only available to those with a subscription to DirecTV’s "high-definition extra tier." In May 2006 then Secretary Lawrence M. Small had promised that Smithsonian TV "will come automatically with a cable package" and not require any extra subscriptions, including that of Showtime, the Smithsonian’s production partner. However, as the Post notes, "the business model changed from cable on-demand to satellite high-definition." According to Tom Hayden, general manager for Smithsonian Networks and a Showtime executive vice president, the deal with DirectTV is "only the first" and presumably more cable outlets will follow suit.
The Smithsonian Channel’s official web site including some previews is available here.