Nickolas Davatzes, who was instrumental in generating the cable tv networks A&E and the Historical past Channel, which now reach into 335 million homes close to the planet, died on Aug. 21 at his residence in Wilton, Conn. He was 79.
The cause was issues of Parkinson’s disease, his son George said.
Mr. Davatzes (pronounced dah-VAT-sis) was president and main government of A&E, at first the Arts & Enjoyment Network, which he ran from 1983 to 2005 as a joint enterprise of the Hearst Corporation and the Disney-ABC Tv Team. He released the History Channel in 1995 and remained a forceful advocate for academic and community affairs programming, advertising it in the market and in appearances just before Congress.
By the mid-1980s A&E had emerged as the sole surviving advertiser-supported cultural cable service, mostly by obtaining programming and building a bankable viewers by negotiating distribution rights with local cable methods.
“After 60 days below, I advised my spouse I didn’t feel this matter experienced a 20 % prospect, simply because just about every time I turned around there was another impediment,” Mr. Davatzes explained to The New York Periods in 1989. “I used to say that we have been like a bumblebee — we weren’t supposed to fly.”
But they did. A&E became profitable within just three yrs by featuring an eclectic menu of every day programming that, as The Instances place it, “might involve a biographical portrait of Herbert Hoover, a system about the embattled buffalo, a dramatization of an Ann Beattie brief tale and a switch from the stand-up comedian Excitement Belmondo.”
“We do not want to duplicate ‘The A-Team’ or ‘Laverne & Shirley,’” Mr. Davatzes told The Periods in 1985. “There is a younger era that has never seen any considered-provoking entertainment on tv. They’ve found a rock star destroying a guitar each individual 16 minutes, but they’ve never viewed classical tunes.
“By network criteria,” he continued, “our viewership will normally be constrained. But that is the operate of cable — to present ample alternate options so that people today can be their own programmers.”
Underneath the A&E umbrella, the network encompassed a broad blend of entertainment and nonfiction programming. It developed a singular id with scripted shows (“100 Centre Avenue,” “A Nero Wolfe Thriller”) and collaborations, like its wildly preferred co-output with the BBC of “Pride and Prejudice,” a mini-sequence dependent on the Jane Austen novel starring Colin Firth and Jennifer Ehle.
Mr. Davatzes was awarded the Nationwide Humanities Medal by President George W. Bush in 2006. The French governing administration built 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, called 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 were from Greece. Both his mom and dad labored in the fur trade.
Following graduating from Bryant Substantial University in Astoria, Queens, he acquired a bachelor’s degree in economics in 1962 and a master’s in sociology in 1964, each from St. John’s College, where by he satisfied his upcoming spouse, Dorothea Hayes.
In addition to his son George, he is survived by his wife a different son, Dr. Nicholas Davatzes a sister, Carol Davatzes Ferrandino and four grandchildren. One more son, Christopher, died in advance of him.
Right after serving in the Marines, Mr. Davatzes joined the Xerox Company in 1965 and shifted to data technological innovation at Intext Communications Techniques in 1978. A pal released him to an executive at the fledgling Warner Amex cable company, who recruited him about lunch and had him indicator a deal drawn on a restaurant serviette. He went to function there in 1980, together with cable television pioneers like Richard Aurelio and Larry Wangberg.
The Arts & Amusement Community took shape in 1983, when Mr. Davatzes helped set the finishing touches on a merger in between two struggling cable programs: the Enjoyment Community, owned by RCA and the Rockefeller family members, and the ARTS Community, owned by Hearst and ABC.
His approach in the commencing was twofold: to aim on making the network far more offered to viewers, and not to be diverted by producing initial programs, as a substitute concentrating on acquiring existing kinds.
“If you’re in programming, we know that 85 per cent of each new show that goes on the air typically fails,” Mr. Davatzes said in a 2001 interview with The Cable Middle, an educational arm of the cable industry.
“Our all round technique is to build a sane economic product,” he stated in 1985. “I like to convey to folks operating for us that we really don’t consume at ‘21.’”