African Entertainment Heavyweight Jan Du Plessis To Launch Primedia Studios
EXCLUSIVE: African entertainment heavyweight Jan du Plessis is back in business.
The high-profile exec has been named President of Primedia Studios soon after leaving South African pay-TV network M-Net to retire after nearly 30 years.
Primedia Studios will be part of African content giant Primedia and is positioning itself as a leading South African production and distribution operator and “the preferred partner to both the local and international audiovisual industry.”
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Du Plessis will oversee strategy around licensing, creation, development, localisation and distribution of entertainment shows and content. He’ll also lead a “robust succession strategy” to ensure a generation of Black executives rise to management positions at Primedia.
Joining him at the venture are Lindile Xoko, Chief Revenue Officer and CEO of Primedia Broadcasting, and Victoria Ramabulana, showrunner and project manager. Du Plessis will report directly to Jonathan Procter, Primedia Group CEO.
The move comes as something of a surprise as Du Plessis had retired from M-Net, where he oversaw both the creative and commercial aspects of the business, running networks and services across Sub-Saharan Africa. He is also known for commissioning and developing local versions of formats such as Big Brother, Deal or No Deal, My Kitchen Rules, The Voice and Idols, and established M-Net’s sales division.
He has also produced around 70 films for M-Net, many of which took top ratings on networks such as Mzansi Magic, KykNET and M-Net Movie. Elsewhere, he established the AfricanFilmLibrary (AFL), which is now one of the world’s largest repositories of African movie with more than 1,000 in its vault.
“Jan is an exceptionally talented professional who will inspire our company’s next generation of young people as well as our industry’s next generation of leaders,” said Primedia CEO Procter. “His innovation has created countless opportunities for both audiences and advertisers. For Primedia and the rest of the African continent, this will be a pivotal moment in our industry’s development.”
Du Plessis added he was “confident that international format rights-holders, studios and indies will share our excitement at the launch of Primedia Studios.
“Our clients and advertisers can expect the best local content, including new and revitalised formats, and dedicated marketing support,” he added. “Marvel discovered that Africa has superheroes too and Wakanda can be forever. We want the real character and stories of Africa to infuse everything we do and we will invest all available resources in the IP that brings these stories to life. By harnessing the power and reach of the Primedia Group, Primedia Studios will be the home of premium-quality Africa-inspired content that will resonate with audiences around the world.”
South Africa businesses are still predominantly white at the top level and as such, Procter talked up the importance of the second element of Du Plessis’ role. “Our investment in Black talent is an essential component of Primedia’s strategy,” he said. “Our commitment to transformation is non-negotiable. We have purposefully placed it high on our agenda because we know it will benefit not only our own people, but our industry and the continent as a whole.”
After Du Plessis exited M-Net, the pay giant consolidated key management teams under Director for KykNET Channels Waldimar Pelser.
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