The Canadian Press - ONLINE EDITION

Japan's WOWOW on the lookout for U.S. and European partners for co-productions

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BANFF, Alta. - The largest TV company in Japan is at the Banff World Media Festival looking for new partners for a series of co-productions.

WOWOW is Japan's leading premium pay TV broadcaster with 2.6 million subscribers. It has three channels: prime-time shows, live concerts and sporting events (including the NBA and UFC) and a movie channel.

It airs seven popular American and European TV series per week as part of its regular programming.

"I'm looking for a co-production project. We already exceeded our original content just like HBO but it was only Japanese production with Japanese actors in Japanese," said Kayo Washio, the head of U.S. operations for the network.

"I don't care if the subject has a Japanese relation or not because our subscribers are already familar with American and European content so they just care about the quality, not whether the subject matter is Japanese or not."

WOWOW participated in four co-productions last year including two in Germany and two in the United States.

Washio served as co-producer of Robert Redford and Wim Wenders' six-part TV documentary "Cathedrals of Culture," which made its world premiere at this year's Berlin Film Festival.

In the last year, she picked up HBO's "The Newsroom," which has been a big hit overseas, as well as Beyonce's concert series.

The co-productions have been documentaries so far but Washio is looking at the possibility of getting involved in a miniseries at some point in the future.

She said WOWOW looks at this as a learning process and the company is providing money and resources.

"Eventually we're going to produce our own original ideas as a co-production with an American partner or a European partner but now we've just started and we are still beginners in this world," she said.

"It's an easier way to jump into someone else's projects and to learn."

Follow @BillGraveland on Twitter.

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