Nickolas Davatzes, who was instrumental in generating the cable television networks A&E and the Heritage Channel, which now attain into 335 million households all around the globe, died on Aug. 21 at his house in Wilton, Conn. He was 79.
The lead to was problems of Parkinson’s disease, his son George mentioned.
Mr. Davatzes (pronounced dah-VAT-sis) was president and chief govt of A&E, originally the Arts & Entertainment Network, which he ran from 1983 to 2005 as a joint undertaking of the Hearst Corporation and the Disney-ABC Tv Team. He released the Record Channel in 1995 and remained a forceful advocate for academic and general public affairs programming, marketing it in just the industry and in appearances before Congress.
By the mid-1980s A&E had emerged as the sole surviving advertiser-supported cultural cable service, largely by purchasing programming and setting up a bankable viewers by negotiating distribution rights with community cable units.
“After 60 times in this article, I advised my wife I didn’t consider this issue had a 20 p.c opportunity, for the reason that every single time I turned all around there was a further obstacle,” Mr. Davatzes informed The New York Instances in 1989. “I employed to say that we have been like a bumblebee — we weren’t supposed to fly.”
But they did. A&E grew to become financially rewarding in just 3 years by featuring an eclectic menu of every day programming that, as The Times set it, “might include things like a biographical portrait of Herbert Hoover, a method about the embattled buffalo, a dramatization of an Ann Beattie small story and a flip from the stand-up comic Buzz Belmondo.”
“We don’t want to copy ‘The A-Team’ or ‘Laverne & Shirley,’” Mr. Davatzes advised The Occasions in 1985. “There is a young technology that has never viewed any considered-provoking entertainment on tv. They’ve viewed a rock star destroying a guitar each 16 minutes, but they’ve never ever witnessed classical music.
“By network specifications,” he continued, “our viewership will usually be limited. But that is the perform of cable — to existing adequate alternate options so that folks can be their individual programmers.”
Below the A&E umbrella, the community encompassed a wide mix of amusement and nonfiction programming. It produced a singular identity with scripted shows (“100 Centre Road,” “A Nero Wolfe Thriller”) and collaborations, like its wildly well known co-output with the BBC of “Pride and Prejudice,” a mini-collection primarily based 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 federal government manufactured him a chevalier of the Order of Arts and Letters in 1989. He was inducted into the Broadcasting & Cable Hall of Fame in 1999.
Right after his dying, Frank A. Bennack Jr., the government vice chairman of Hearst, known as him “the father of the Historical past Channel.”
Nickolas Davatzes was born on March 14, 1942, in Manhattan to George Davatzes, a Greek immigrant, and Alexandra (Kordes) Davatzes, whose moms and dads had been from Greece. Equally his dad and mom worked in the fur trade.
Just after graduating from Bryant High University in Astoria, Queens, he acquired a bachelor’s degree in economics in 1962 and a master’s in sociology in 1964, both of those from St. John’s University, the place he satisfied his foreseeable future wife, Dorothea Hayes.
In addition to his son George, he is survived by his spouse another son, Dr. Nicholas Davatzes a sister, Carol Davatzes Ferrandino and four grandchildren. One more son, Christopher, died just before him.
Just after serving in the Marines, Mr. Davatzes joined the Xerox Company in 1965 and shifted to information and facts engineering at Intext Communications Methods in 1978. A friend introduced him to an govt at the fledgling Warner Amex cable organization, who recruited him over lunch and experienced him indication a contract drawn on a restaurant serviette. He went to work there in 1980, together with cable tv pioneers like Richard Aurelio and Larry Wangberg.
The Arts & Amusement Community took form in 1983, when Mr. Davatzes served set the ending touches on a merger amongst two having difficulties cable devices: the Leisure Network, owned by RCA and the Rockefeller loved ones, and the ARTS Community, owned by Hearst and ABC.
His approach in the beginning was twofold: to target on making the network far more available to viewers, and not to be diverted by manufacturing unique systems, as an alternative focusing on acquiring current ones.
“If you are in programming, we know that 85 % of each individual new display that goes on the air ordinarily fails,” Mr. Davatzes claimed in a 2001 job interview with The Cable Center, an academic arm of the cable sector.
“Our all round technique is to create a sane financial design,” he claimed in 1985. “I like to inform people today functioning for us that we do not consume at ‘21.’”