Nickolas Davatzes, who was instrumental in generating the cable tv networks A&E and the Record Channel, which now attain into 335 million households all over the environment, died on Aug. 21 at his dwelling in Wilton, Conn. He was 79.
The result in was issues of Parkinson’s sickness, his son George claimed.
Mr. Davatzes (pronounced dah-VAT-sis) was president and chief govt of A&E, at first the Arts & Leisure Network, which he ran from 1983 to 2005 as a joint enterprise of the Hearst Corporation and the Disney-ABC Television Team. He introduced the Heritage Channel in 1995 and remained a forceful advocate for instructional and general public affairs programming, advertising it in just the business and in appearances before Congress.
By the mid-1980s A&E experienced emerged as the sole surviving advertiser-supported cultural cable service, mostly by purchasing programming and constructing a bankable audience by negotiating distribution legal rights with local cable programs.
“After 60 days here, I told my wife I didn’t consider this point had a 20 p.c prospect, for the reason that each and every time I turned about there was an additional impediment,” Mr. Davatzes told The New York Times in 1989. “I employed to say that we were being like a bumblebee — we weren’t supposed to fly.”
But they did. A&E grew to become worthwhile in 3 a long time by providing an eclectic menu of every day programming that, as The Moments place it, “might incorporate a biographical portrait of Herbert Hoover, a plan about the embattled buffalo, a dramatization of an Ann Beattie small tale and a convert from the stand-up comic Buzz Belmondo.”
“We do not want to replicate ‘The A-Team’ or ‘Laverne & Shirley,’” Mr. Davatzes explained to The Instances in 1985. “There is a younger technology that has in no way found any imagined-provoking leisure on television. They’ve witnessed a rock star destroying a guitar each and every 16 minutes, but they’ve never found classical tunes.
“By community criteria,” he continued, “our viewership will generally be minimal. But that is the operate of cable — to current more than enough alternatives so that people today can be their possess programmers.”
Less than the A&E umbrella, the community encompassed a wide mix of amusement and nonfiction programming. It created a singular identification with scripted demonstrates (“100 Centre Avenue,” “A Nero Wolfe Secret”) and collaborations, like its wildly well known co-production with the BBC of “Pride and Prejudice,” a mini-sequence 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 authorities manufactured him a chevalier of the Buy of Arts and Letters in 1989. He was inducted into the Broadcasting & Cable Corridor of Fame in 1999.
Following his demise, Frank A. Bennack Jr., the executive vice chairman of Hearst, referred to as him “the father of the Heritage Channel.”
Nickolas Davatzes was born on March 14, 1942, in Manhattan to George Davatzes, a Greek immigrant, and Alexandra (Kordes) Davatzes, whose dad and mom had been from Greece. Both equally his parents labored in the fur trade.
Following graduating from Bryant Large University in Astoria, Queens, he earned a bachelor’s degree in economics in 1962 and a master’s in sociology in 1964, both of those from St. John’s University, exactly where he met his long run wife, Dorothea Hayes.
In addition to his son George, he is survived by his spouse a further son, Dr. Nicholas Davatzes a sister, Carol Davatzes Ferrandino and four grandchildren. Yet another son, Christopher, died right before him.
After serving in the Marines, Mr. Davatzes joined the Xerox Corporation in 1965 and shifted to data technologies at Intext Communications Techniques in 1978. A close friend launched him to an government at the fledgling Warner Amex cable business, who recruited him more than lunch and experienced him sign a agreement 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 & Leisure Community took shape in 1983, when Mr. Davatzes served put the finishing touches on a merger among two having difficulties cable systems: the Leisure Network, owned by RCA and the Rockefeller loved ones, and the ARTS Community, owned by Hearst and ABC.
His system in the starting was twofold: to focus on generating the network a lot more obtainable to viewers, and not to be diverted by developing first plans, instead concentrating on acquiring existing ones.
“If you’re in programming, we know that 85 % of each and every new clearly show that goes on the air commonly fails,” Mr. Davatzes said in a 2001 interview with The Cable Centre, an educational arm of the cable industry.
“Our general solution is to generate a sane economic design,” he stated in 1985. “I like to explain to individuals operating for us that we really don’t try to eat at ‘21.’”