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  1  
ThE MaStEr

BBC left behind as Sky steals Mad Men and sets up showcase channel

Somewhere, hidden under the Amazon rainforest canopy, a jaguar is resting a little more easily these days, thanks to suave advertiser Don Draper, suave but dead drug dealer Stringer Bell and a less than suave bigamous Mormon family.

Sky's scoop-up of HBO's catalogue in July has now been crowned by an audacious snatch of Mad Men, currently one of television's most revered series and a trophy in the BBC cabinet for the past three years.

The deal with Lionsgate means Sky will become the UK's official home for Mad Men, the jewel in the crown for Sky's new Atlantic HD channel, to be launched early next year and exclusively featuring all of HBO's new series.

These include Boardwalk Empire, a Prohibition-era dramatized history of Atlantic City from Terence Winter, creator of the Sopranos, Game of Thrones, Luck, starring Dustin Hoffman, Mildred Pierce, starring Kate Winslet and Treme, the new series from the Wire creator David Simon, dramatizing the rebuilding of New Orleans following the devastation of Hurricane Katrina.

Icing the Sky Atlantic cake will be future seasons of existing HBO shows, including Entourage, the aforementioned Mormon drama Big Love, as well as re-showings of the Sopranos, the Wire, Six Feet Under and the Pacific.

All in all a compelling channel that, with the exception of the absence of 30 Rock, will showcase easily the best television being made anywhere in the world at the moment and help draw potentially tens of thousands of new subscribers to Sky's evil empire. The channel will be part of Sky's Variety Pack of basic channels.

The good news for the jaguar and many thousands of other specialized species making their uneasy way in the precarious Amazon rainforest, comes from the wider coverage they'll get on Sky's new channel. In alliance with the World Wildlife Fund, Sky is promoting a rainforest charity, aimed at raising £4 million, to help protect one of the world's most critical bio-diverse environments, the lungs of the planet. So far, with Sky matching donations pound for pound, nearly £860,000 has been raised.

However, good fortune for Sky and stealthy big cats is freighted with bad luck for the BBC. The God of TV, presumably Shiva, has decided to give UK pay-TV powerful audience leverage on the one hand, while stripping the Beeb and terrestrial audiences of the best TV on the other.

From the BBC's standpoint, such a situation is hard to fathom. It routinely complains about Sky's supposed failure to support UK-made programming, while at the same time happily employing its licence fee and international revenues to commission some of the most embarrassing television seen on UK screens.

At the same time, it is important to acknowledge Sky is behind at least some new UK programming, including series such as Thorne, Mad Dogs, the Runaway, Strikeback, Little Crackers, Stella, Mount Pleasant and This is Jinsy.

There is no reason to hope or suspect this output will be equal to or better than the BBC's dismal offerings. Indeed Sky boasts its own roster of mediocre game shows and ratings killing reality TV.

However, if you were was a betting man, it would be putting its money behind Sky. It is bringing to UK screens the world's best television and unapologetically asking people to pay for it. Taxpayer funded, the BBC has let Sky steal away one of its best assets.

Up against Sky;'s Atlantic HD channel, not to mention the Simpsons, Modern Family, Premier League football and now 3D, the BBC is bringing a knife to a gunfight.

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  2  
ThE MaStEr



BBC left behind as Sky steals Mad Men and sets up showcase channel

Somewhere, hidden under the Amazon rainforest canopy, a jaguar is resting a little more easily these days, thanks to suave advertiser Don Draper, suave but dead drug dealer Stringer Bell and a less than suave bigamous Mormon family.

Sky's scoop-up of HBO's catalogue in July has now been crowned by an audacious snatch of Mad Men, currently one of television's most revered series and a trophy in the BBC cabinet for the past three years.

The deal with Lionsgate means Sky will become the UK's official home for Mad Men, the jewel in the crown for Sky's new Atlantic HD channel, to be launched early next year and exclusively featuring all of HBO's new series.

These include Boardwalk Empire, a Prohibition-era dramatized history of Atlantic City from Terence Winter, creator of the Sopranos, Game of Thrones, Luck, starring Dustin Hoffman, Mildred Pierce, starring Kate Winslet and Treme, the new series from the Wire creator David Simon, dramatizing the rebuilding of New Orleans following the devastation of Hurricane Katrina.

Icing the Sky Atlantic cake will be future seasons of existing HBO shows, including Entourage, the aforementioned Mormon drama Big Love, as well as re-showings of the Sopranos, the Wire, Six Feet Under and the Pacific.

All in all a compelling channel that, with the exception of the absence of 30 Rock, will showcase easily the best television being made anywhere in the world at the moment and help draw potentially tens of thousands of new subscribers to Sky's evil empire. The channel will be part of Sky's Variety Pack of basic channels.

The good news for the jaguar and many thousands of other specialized species making their uneasy way in the precarious Amazon rainforest, comes from the wider coverage they'll get on Sky's new channel. In alliance with the World Wildlife Fund, Sky is promoting a rainforest charity, aimed at raising £4 million, to help protect one of the world's most critical bio-diverse environments, the lungs of the planet. So far, with Sky matching donations pound for pound, nearly £860,000 has been raised.

However, good fortune for Sky and stealthy big cats is freighted with bad luck for the BBC. The God of TV, presumably Shiva, has decided to give UK pay-TV powerful audience leverage on the one hand, while stripping the Beeb and terrestrial audiences of the best TV on the other.

From the BBC's standpoint, such a situation is hard to fathom. It routinely complains about Sky's supposed failure to support UK-made programming, while at the same time happily employing its licence fee and international revenues to commission some of the most embarrassing television seen on UK screens.

FreebandTVNews is no apologist for any broadcasting behemoth. At the same time, it is important to acknowledge Sky is behind at least some new UK programming, including series such as Thorne, Mad Dogs, the Runaway, Strikeback, Little Crackers, Stella, Mount Pleasant and This is Jinsy.

There is no reason to hope or suspect this output will be equal to or better than the BBC's dismal offerings. Indeed Sky boasts its own roster of mediocre game shows and ratings killing reality TV.

However, if yuo are was a betting man, it would be putting its money behind Sky. It is bringing to UK screens the world's best television and unapologetically asking people to pay for it. Taxpayer funded, the BBC has let Sky steal away one of its best assets.

Up against Sky;'s Atlantic HD channel, not to mention the Simpsons, Modern Family, Premier League football and now 3D, the BBC is bringing a knife to a gunfight.

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BBC left behind as Sky steals Mad Men and sets up showcase channel


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