NHK backs new Banff award


TORONTO -- Japanese public broadcaster NHK is sponsoring a new prize for the best Asian-made or themed program showcased at the Banff World Television Festival, event organizers said Friday.

Banff said the NHK will underwrite the $20,000 prize for best Asian program, which will be handed out along with the rest of the Banff prizes each June.

The inaugural NHK best Asian program prize will go to a TV show produced in Asia or anywhere internationally in which the the primary content is about Asia or has Asian subject matter.

"Asia is full of stories waiting to be discovered," NHK international program development chief Fumio Narashima said in a statement.

"It's a very diverse region of countries each with their own distinct language, culture and religion," he added. "These differences mean that program-making in and about Asia can be extremely challenging and, at the same time, extremely interesting. That's why we want to celebrate these programs."

NHK already is behind the HDTV Development Prize and the NHK President's Prize handed out each year in Banff. Banff recognized the 50th anniversary of the Japanese public broadcaster in 2003.

The Banff World Television Festival, an annual gathering for TV executives and producers, will take place June 8-11 in the Canadian Rockies retreat.