ZDF Enterprises (ZDFE) has appointed Red Arrow Studios International’s president Bo Stehmeier as CEO at Off The Fence, the factual distributor it acquired in 2019.
Stehmeier will take up his position alongside OTF’s founder Ellen Windemuth from January next year, with interim co-CEO Ralf Rueckauer returning to his role as VP of ZDFE’s unscripted output.
The German business bought OTF outright in January last year, with Windemuth agreeing to stay on as CEO of the distributor. The company was founded in 1994 and was among entities initially considered by the now defunct Kew Media Group, which instead went on to acquire boutique factual distributor TCB Media.
OTF produces and distributes global-facing factual programming, creating more than 500 hours of content for broadcasters including History Channel, MTV, BBC, Channel 4, MSNBC, PBS, National Geographic Channel, Discovery and ZDF.
Fred Burcksen, president & CEO of ZDFE and chairman of the supervisory board at OTF, described Stehmeier as “not only an internationally recognised and well-networked marketing and sales expert, but also someone who, from many years of previous experience with Off the Fence, knows the company and its range of programmes very well.”
Burcksen added: “Together with Ellen Windemuth and the committed, international sales and production team, he will guide Off the Fence safely into the future. We are also pleased that the temporary Co-CEO Ralf Rueckauer will now again be able to focus completely on his core work as VP ZDFE.unscripted at ZDF Enterprises, and we thank him very much for his excellent work at Off the Fence.”
Stehmeier had spells at TVF International, Zodiak Media and Optomen, before moving to Off The Fence in 2007, where he became responsible for global sales. He was appointed to head of world sales at Red Arrow Studios International in 2016, before being promoted to become president in January 2019.
Stehmeier said: “The OTF team has readied the company for exponential growth, perfectly timed for the imminent renaissance of non-scripted. I am truly excited to reconnect with my factual entertainment roots and to co-pilot this studio during such exciting times.”
Windemuth added: “Bo and OTF share the same passion for high quality nonfiction. His vast experience will allow us to grow the company while supporting its values and spirit. I very much look forward to working with him again.”
The appointment comes two months after German media giant ProSiebenSat.1 decided to pull the sale of production and distribution arm Red Arrow Studios. The German company triggered a strategic review of Red Arrow in September, prompting All3 to become a leading contender to acquire the firm.
However, the Liberty Global and Discovery-backed company pulled out of the running and ProSieben ended its strategic review process, adding that it would retain Red Arrow in the long term.