Sky Atlantic, this week’s high profile channel launch, looks set to remain absent from UK cable homes for the time being. Speaking to the Broadcasting Press Guild, Sky COO Mike Darcey said the broadcaster had been unable to come to carriage terms with Virgin Media.
Darcey said conversations had been held with the cableco over a period of several months and had included presentations by the channel’s controller Stuart Murphy. “Virgin’s enthusiasm for content has always been a bit luke warm. I think they’d love to have Sky Atlantic and they’d love to have it on the cheap. What I’m not inclined to do is to let them have it on the cheap, which essentially means that satellite customers have to cross-subsidise Virgin Media customers”.
The disagreement has echoes of the 2007 dispute that took Sky 1 and Sky News off Virgin screens for over 18 months.
Darcey said he hoped Virgin would take the channel and having missed the launch date he expected that Virgin would wait to see how the channel performed.
A Virgin Media spokesperson told Broadband TV News: “As the home of digital entertainment, we’re always looking at new channels and content to give our customers the greatest range of high quality entertainment. We are looking at more channel launches for 2011 and are currently in discussions with a number of content providers including Sky.”
Sky Atlantic launched on February 1 and draws heavily on content from the HBO library including The Pacific, The Sopranos, The Wire, Six Feet Under, Flight of the Conchords and Curb Your Enthusiasm.