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'House of Cards,' HBO docs and PBS headline Peabody winners

Cast member Kevin Spacey poses at the premiere for the second season of the television series "House of Cards" at the Directors Guild of Ame
Cast member Kevin Spacey poses at the premiere for the second season of the television series "House of Cards" at the Directors Guild of Ame

By Eric Kelsey

(Reuters) - Netflix political thriller "House of Cards" and jail house comedy-drama "Orange Is the New Black," along with a trio of HBO documentaries, headlined the winners of the annual Peabody Awards, the oldest and one of the top honors in broadcasting.

Public broadcaster PBS won 12 awards, including one for "League of Denial: The NFL's Concussion Crisis" about football's long-term health risks and "Broadway Musicals: A Jewish Legacy," which examined the Jewish roots of American musical theater.

The Peabody Awards recognize the best in television, radio, Internet broadcasting, producing organizations and individuals. A record 46 awards were handed out this year.

"House of Cards," which was the first online-streaming show to win an Emmy award, was praised for Netflix's unique approach of releasing all the season's episodes at once.

"Netflix took binge viewing to a new level and obliterated the idea that a hit TV show needs a slot in prime time," the Peabody panel said.

Netflix Inc's "Orange Is the New Black," about a bisexual woman reunited with her ex-lover in prison, was lauded for its "complex, riveting character study rich in insights about femininity, race, power, and the politics, inside and outside prison walls, of mass incarceration."

Alex Gibney's documentary, "Mea Maxima Culpa: Silence in the House of God," about a Catholic priest who sexually abused hundreds of deaf children earned a Peabody for HBO.

The Time Warner Inc-owned premium cable network also picked up awards for documentaries "Six by Sondheim," on musical theater composer Stephen Sondheim and "Life According to Sam," about a teenager with the early onset aging disease progeria.

The Peabody panel, which also honors international and local programs, awarded a prize to Boston's WBZ-TV and WBZ Newsradio for their "non-sensational coverage" of last year's Boston Marathon bombings and subsequent manhunt.

Other notable winners include Comedy Central's racially incisive sketch comedy show "Key & Peele," AMC drug drama "Breaking Bad" and ABC's political thriller "Scandal" about a Washington, D.C. fixer.

International programs honored were Danish political drama "Borgen," the Pakistani animated series "Burka Avenger" about female empowerment and Philippine network GMA's coverage of November's Typhoon Haiyan that killed more than 6,000 people.

Longtime NBC news reporter and anchor Tom Brokaw, 74, was given an individual Peabody Award for career achievement and in particular for the his work on long-form news reports after leaving the "NBC Nightly News" program in 2004.

A 16-member board of critics, experts, and news and entertainment industry insiders select the winners of the annual awards handed out by the University of Georgia's Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication.

The winners will be honored at a ceremony in New York on May 19.

(Reporting by Eric Kelsey; Editing by Patricia Reaney and Richard Chang)

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