Nickolas Davatzes, who was instrumental in creating the cable tv networks A&E and the Background Channel, which now achieve into 335 million households about the earth, died on Aug. 21 at his household in Wilton, Conn. He was 79.
The result in was troubles of Parkinson’s disorder, his son George explained.
Mr. Davatzes (pronounced dah-VAT-sis) was president and chief executive of A&E, originally the Arts & Leisure Network, which he ran from 1983 to 2005 as a joint venture of the Hearst Corporation and the Disney-ABC Tv Team. He introduced the History Channel in 1995 and remained a forceful advocate for educational and community affairs programming, advertising it inside of the sector and in appearances prior to Congress.
By the mid-1980s A&E experienced emerged as the sole surviving advertiser-supported cultural cable company, mainly by shopping for programming and creating a bankable viewers by negotiating distribution legal rights with regional cable programs.
“After 60 times here, I informed my spouse I did not assume this matter experienced a 20 percent probability, mainly because each individual time I turned all around there was an additional obstacle,” Mr. Davatzes told The New York Times in 1989. “I applied to say that we were being like a bumblebee — we weren’t meant to fly.”
But they did. A&E became financially rewarding within just three several years by featuring an eclectic menu of every day programming that, as The Instances put it, “might include things like a biographical portrait of Herbert Hoover, a system about the embattled buffalo, a dramatization of an Ann Beattie small tale and a turn from the stand-up comedian Buzz Belmondo.”
“We never want to replicate ‘The A-Team’ or ‘Laverne & Shirley,’” Mr. Davatzes explained to The Situations in 1985. “There is a more youthful technology that has under no circumstances found any believed-provoking enjoyment on tv. They’ve viewed a rock star destroying a guitar each individual 16 minutes, but they’ve never observed classical new music.
“By community expectations,” he continued, “our viewership will normally be confined. But that is the purpose of cable — to existing more than enough possibilities so that men and women can be their very own programmers.”
Below the A&E umbrella, the community encompassed a wide mix of amusement and nonfiction programming. It made a singular identification with scripted demonstrates (“100 Centre Street,” “A Nero Wolfe Thriller”) and collaborations, like its wildly well known co-creation with the BBC of “Pride and Prejudice,” a mini-series dependent on the Jane Austen novel starring Colin Firth and Jennifer Ehle.
Mr. Davatzes was awarded the Countrywide Humanities Medal by President George W. Bush in 2006. The French authorities made him a chevalier of the Get of Arts and Letters in 1989. He was inducted into the Broadcasting & Cable Corridor of Fame in 1999.
Immediately after his death, Frank A. Bennack Jr., the govt vice chairman of Hearst, known as him “the father of the Background Channel.”
Nickolas Davatzes was born on March 14, 1942, in Manhattan to George Davatzes, a Greek immigrant, and Alexandra (Kordes) Davatzes, whose mothers and fathers had been from Greece. Each his mothers and fathers labored in the fur trade.
Right after graduating from Bryant High University in Astoria, Queens, he attained a bachelor’s degree in economics in 1962 and a master’s in sociology in 1964, each from St. John’s University, exactly where he achieved his upcoming spouse, Dorothea Hayes.
In addition to his son George, he is survived by his spouse yet another son, Dr. Nicholas Davatzes a sister, Carol Davatzes Ferrandino and four grandchildren. A different son, Christopher, died in advance of him.
Soon after serving in the Marines, Mr. Davatzes joined the Xerox Company in 1965 and shifted to information and facts know-how at Intext Communications Methods in 1978. A mate launched him to an govt at the fledgling Warner Amex cable business, who recruited him over lunch and had him signal a deal 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 & Enjoyment Community took shape in 1983, when Mr. Davatzes helped set the ending touches on a merger concerning two struggling cable techniques: the Enjoyment Community, owned by RCA and the Rockefeller family, and the ARTS Community, owned by Hearst and ABC.
His system in the starting was twofold: to concentration on making the community additional out there to viewers, and not to be diverted by generating primary packages, rather concentrating on buying existing ones.
“If you’re in programming, we know that 85 % of every new exhibit that goes on the air usually fails,” Mr. Davatzes claimed in a 2001 interview with The Cable Centre, an academic arm of the cable field.
“Our general approach is to develop a sane economic model,” he explained in 1985. “I like to notify folks doing work for us that we really do not eat at ‘21.’”