Nickolas Davatzes, Force Behind A&E and the History Channel, Dies at 79

Nickolas Davatzes, who was instrumental in generating the cable television networks A&E and the Record Channel, which now access into 335 million homes close to the globe, died on Aug. 21 at his household in Wilton, Conn. He was 79.

The trigger was issues of Parkinson’s sickness, his son George mentioned.

Mr. Davatzes (pronounced dah-VAT-sis) was president and main executive of A&E, initially the Arts & Leisure Community, which he ran from 1983 to 2005 as a joint venture of the Hearst Company and the Disney-ABC Tv Group. He released the Record Channel in 1995 and remained a forceful advocate for academic and general public affairs programming, advertising and marketing it inside of the sector and in appearances in advance of Congress.

By the mid-1980s A&E had emerged as the sole surviving advertiser-supported cultural cable assistance, mainly by shopping for programming and making a bankable audience by negotiating distribution rights with regional cable systems.

“After 60 days in this article, I explained to my wife I did not believe this issue experienced a 20 % probability, due to the fact every time I turned all around there was yet another impediment,” Mr. Davatzes advised The New York Instances in 1989. “I utilised to say that we had been like a bumblebee — we weren’t supposed to fly.”

But they did. A&E became worthwhile inside 3 decades by providing an eclectic menu of daily programming that, as The Times set it, “might include a biographical portrait of Herbert Hoover, a method about the embattled buffalo, a dramatization of an Ann Beattie limited tale and a change from the stand-up comedian Excitement Belmondo.”

“We don’t want to duplicate ‘The A-Team’ or ‘Laverne & Shirley,’” Mr. Davatzes instructed The Times in 1985. “There is a young technology that has in no way viewed any believed-provoking enjoyment on television. They’ve observed a rock star destroying a guitar every 16 minutes, but they’ve hardly ever found classical tunes.

“By community specifications,” he ongoing, “our viewership will constantly be confined. But that is the function of cable — to current enough possibilities so that people today can be their have programmers.”

Under the A&E umbrella, the community encompassed a broad blend of leisure and nonfiction programming. It created a singular identification with scripted demonstrates (“100 Centre Avenue,” “A Nero Wolfe Thriller”) and collaborations, like its wildly preferred co-generation with the BBC of “Pride and Prejudice,” a mini-collection based on the Jane Austen novel starring Colin Firth and Jennifer Ehle.

The network ongoing to extend its scope to incorporate documentary collection like “Biography” “Hoarders,” which may possibly be categorised as an anthropological research of compulsive stockpiling and the Heritage Channel’s encyclopedic scrutiny of Adolf Hitler.

Mr. Davatzes was awarded the Nationwide Humanities Medal by President George W. Bush in 2006. The French government 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.

Soon after his death, Frank A. Bennack Jr., the government vice chairman of Hearst, identified 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 had been from Greece. The two his mother and father labored in the fur trade.

Right after graduating from Bryant Substantial School in Astoria, Queens, he attained a bachelor’s diploma in economics in 1962 and a master’s in sociology in 1964, both from St. John’s College, where by he met his long term spouse, Dorothea Hayes.

In addition to his son George, he is survived by his wife a further son, Dr. Nicholas Davatzes a sister, Carol Davatzes Ferrandino and 4 grandchildren. An additional son, Christopher, died in advance of him.

Following serving in the Marines, Mr. Davatzes joined the Xerox Corporation in 1965 and shifted to information and facts technologies at Intext Communications Units in 1978. A friend launched him to an executive at the fledgling Warner Amex cable organization, who recruited him more than lunch and experienced him indication a deal drawn on a restaurant serviette. He went to do the job there in 1980, along with cable television pioneers like Richard Aurelio and Larry Wangberg.

The Arts & Amusement Community took form in 1983, when Mr. Davatzes aided place the finishing touches on a merger between two battling cable programs: the Leisure Network, owned by RCA and the Rockefeller spouse and children, and the ARTS Network, owned by Hearst and ABC.

His system in the commencing was twofold: to aim on making the community extra out there to viewers, and not to be diverted by developing authentic plans, in its place concentrating on getting current types.

“If you are in programming, we know that 85 per cent of just about every new exhibit that goes on the air commonly fails,” Mr. Davatzes reported in a 2001 job interview with The Cable Center, an educational arm of the cable business.

“Our all round method is to produce a sane financial product,” he explained in 1985. “I like to explain to individuals working for us that we really do not take in at ‘21.’”