Nickolas Davatzes, who was instrumental in building the cable television networks A&E and the Historical past Channel, which now access into 335 million households around the entire world, died on Aug. 21 at his house in Wilton, Conn. He was 79.
The trigger was difficulties of Parkinson’s sickness, his son George mentioned.
Mr. Davatzes (pronounced dah-VAT-sis) was president and chief government of A&E, at first the Arts & Entertainment Network, which he ran from 1983 to 2005 as a joint undertaking of the Hearst Company and the Disney-ABC Tv Group. He launched the Heritage Channel in 1995 and remained a forceful advocate for educational and public affairs programming, endorsing it in the sector and in appearances right before Congress.
By the mid-1980s A&E had emerged as the sole surviving advertiser-supported cultural cable provider, mainly by buying programming and constructing a bankable viewers by negotiating distribution legal rights with area cable systems.
“After 60 times in this article, I informed my spouse I didn’t believe this detail had a 20 p.c likelihood, for the reason that each time I turned all over there was another impediment,” Mr. Davatzes informed The New York Periods in 1989. “I utilised to say that we ended up like a bumblebee — we weren’t supposed to fly.”
But they did. A&E became profitable inside 3 yrs by offering an eclectic menu of everyday programming that, as The Periods put it, “might involve a biographical portrait of Herbert Hoover, a plan about the embattled buffalo, a dramatization of an Ann Beattie brief story and a convert from the stand-up comedian Buzz Belmondo.”
“We do not want to duplicate ‘The A-Team’ or ‘Laverne & Shirley,’” Mr. Davatzes informed The Periods in 1985. “There is a younger era that has hardly ever noticed any thought-provoking amusement on television. They’ve seen a rock star destroying a guitar just about every 16 minutes, but they’ve never noticed classical new music.
“By community benchmarks,” he ongoing, “our viewership will often be restricted. But that is the purpose of cable — to present enough alternatives so that folks can be their very own programmers.”
Under the A&E umbrella, the community encompassed a broad combine of entertainment and nonfiction programming. It established a singular id with scripted exhibits (“100 Centre Avenue,” “A Nero Wolfe Mystery”) and collaborations, like its wildly preferred co-output with the BBC of “Pride and Prejudice,” a mini-sequence centered on the Jane Austen novel starring Colin Firth and Jennifer Ehle.
Mr. Davatzes was awarded the National Humanities Medal by President George W. Bush in 2006. The French governing administration created him a chevalier of the Buy of Arts and Letters in 1989. He was inducted into the Broadcasting & Cable Corridor of Fame in 1999.
After his dying, Frank A. Bennack Jr., the government vice chairman of Hearst, known as him “the father of the Record Channel.”
Nickolas Davatzes was born on March 14, 1942, in Manhattan to George Davatzes, a Greek immigrant, and Alexandra (Kordes) Davatzes, whose mother and father ended up from Greece. Both of those his mother and father worked in the fur trade.
Soon after graduating from Bryant Higher University in Astoria, Queens, he acquired a bachelor’s diploma in economics in 1962 and a master’s in sociology in 1964, equally from St. John’s University, where he satisfied his upcoming spouse, Dorothea Hayes.
In addition to his son George, he is survived by his spouse a different son, Dr. Nicholas Davatzes a sister, Carol Davatzes Ferrandino and 4 grandchildren. One more son, Christopher, died just before him.
Immediately after serving in the Marines, Mr. Davatzes joined the Xerox Corporation in 1965 and shifted to data technological know-how at Intext Communications Techniques in 1978. A good friend released him to an government at the fledgling Warner Amex cable organization, who recruited him above lunch and had him indicator a contract drawn on a cafe serviette. He went to perform there in 1980, together with cable tv pioneers like Richard Aurelio and Larry Wangberg.
The Arts & Entertainment Network took form in 1983, when Mr. Davatzes helped place the finishing touches on a merger involving two struggling cable techniques: the Amusement Network, owned by RCA and the Rockefeller relatives, and the ARTS Community, owned by Hearst and ABC.
His system in the commencing was twofold: to concentration on producing the network a lot more offered to viewers, and not to be diverted by generating unique programs, as a substitute concentrating on buying present kinds.
“If you’re in programming, we know that 85 percent of just about every new demonstrate that goes on the air generally fails,” Mr. Davatzes explained in a 2001 interview with The Cable Center, an instructional arm of the cable field.
“Our overall technique is to make a sane economic design,” he explained in 1985. “I like to explain to persons functioning for us that we don’t take in at ‘21.’”