Sky Atlantic is home to some of the best TV programmes that America has to offer. From the now-finishing Mad Men to Game of Thrones via Looking, Girls, Boardwalk Empire and countless others, there's no shortage of brilliant TV on the channel. Most of those efforts come from HBO, the American channel which dared to put quality before quantity and built a huge name for themselves as a subscription service in the US. Alongside TV programmes, they also commission feature films for the channel, which are then sold to the various channels which rebroadcast HBO content. One such film is 'Going Clear: Scientology And The Prison Of Belief', and though it's received rave reviews from critics who've described it as important and compelling, Sky will not be broadcasting in the UK because of a gap in the law in Northern Ireland, which could leave them open to libel lawsuits.
Going Clear documents alleged abuse within the Church of Scientology and is based on the book of the same name, which went on to become a bestseller and regularly used as an example of how the Church of Scientology have damaged many of the lives which have sought peace within the organisation. Naturally, the church have been incredibly defensive about the movie, describing it as unrepresentative and unfair to the church.
Many Sky customers were excited to see the film, but the broadcast has been 'delayed', with internal sources doubting that the film will ever get a UK release. Fans are already on the Sky direct contact number, but thats unlikely to change a thing. The reason for the delay is because unlike the rest of the UK, Northern Ireland isn't subject to the 2013 Defamation Act, which requires a claimant to prove that the programme could cause serious harm, whilst the publisher has to prove that it is in the public interest. Those laws have proven robust but fair in the rest of the UK, but in the very religious Northern Ireland assembly they're being held up, leading to uncertainty over the possible broadcast.
Matters are made worse by Sky's broadcasting technology, which isn't able to differentiate between regions, and so anyone with a satellite dish and decoder can pick up the same signal. That means that Sky can't simply broadcast to the countries where the libel law is in place, and so cannot show the programme at all.
The film, meanwhile, has gotten rave reviews, with Entertainment Weekly saying "If Going Clear were a Hollywood thriller, I’d complain that it’s too over-the-top. But this is real life, which is hard to believe. And it’s disturbingly good". Variety, too, gave it a stunning notice which said "For Scientologists, going clear refers to a coveted status awarded to those who have completed a certain level of auditing. But for the men and women on screen here, it means something else: reclaiming their own voices and demanding to be heard."
Meanwhile, another HBO documentary entitled 'The Jinx: The Life and Deaths of Robert Durst' began its broadcast on Sky on the 16th of April, and it follows the story of Robert Durst, a multi-millionaire who has been regularly linked to a series of gruesome murders, and was recently arrested for his crimes after many decades evading detection.
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