MOST Irish homes will be unable to access the much-hyped Sky Atlantic channel which is set to bring a host of well-known HBO dramas such as Treme and Boardwalk Empire to Irish screens this February.
Customers who have digital subscriptions with service provider UPC will not be able to access the channel, leaving only Sky's 600,000-plus Irish subscribers with the option to avail of the new entertainment channel which is being described as "incredible."
According to a spokeswoman for UPC, which has almost 400,000 digital customers in Ireland, "It is under review with the channel provider, until discussions conclude we're not in a position to comment any further."
According to Mark Deering of Sky Ireland, there is no agreement currently in place, although he says they are open to "commercial discussion" on the issue. "As with all Sky channels, we look for as broad a distribution as possible, and Atlantic is no different. At this stage, no such agreements are in place, but as ever, we're always open to having a commercial discussion with potential wholesale partners including UPC".
Shows which will be now broadcast on Sky Atlantic include Boardwalk Empire, Mad Men, The Sopranos, Curb Your Enthusiasm, Treme and Six Feet Under.
In addition to leading US content, the new channel will showcase UK TV talent such as Paul Abbott's new drama, Hit and Miss, and Sir David Attenborough's documentary, Flying Monsters.
A spokeswoman for Sky says the deal will be "exclusive" to its customers only.
"The launch of Sky Atlantic HD will bring the very best in entertainment, drama and films to Sky customers across Ireland. Making it all the more attractive is the fact that Sky Atlantic HD will be free and exclusive to all 10 million Sky customers [in Britain and Ireland] from its launch on 1 February," said the spokeswoman.
Last July, Sky signed an exclusive £150m (€170) multi-year deal with HBO, enabling it to broadcast the US channel's hit shows across Britain and Ireland.
In the UK, BT Vision and Virgin Media were last week attempting to secure a carriage deal with Sky in order to show the new channel, but as with UPC, have been unsuccessful to date in negotiating a deal.
Stuart Murphy, Director of Programmes for Sky 1 HD and Sky Atlantic HD, has said the channel will be "incredible".
"Sky Atlantic HD will be such an incredible channel: seminal, world-class, epic TV all in one place. Unlike other broadcasters, Sky won't hide these series in the twilight hours – we feel incredibly proud of this content and feel privileged to air it in peak time and in high definition, exclusively for all Sky customers."