Nickolas Davatzes, who was instrumental in generating the cable tv networks A&E and the Background Channel, which now get to into 335 million households close to the earth, died on Aug. 21 at his house in Wilton, Conn. He was 79.
The bring about was difficulties of Parkinson’s condition, his son George reported.
Mr. Davatzes (pronounced dah-VAT-sis) was president and chief government of A&E, originally the Arts & Enjoyment Network, which he ran from 1983 to 2005 as a joint enterprise of the Hearst Company and the Disney-ABC Tv Group. He introduced the Historical past Channel in 1995 and remained a forceful advocate for academic and general public affairs programming, selling it inside the field and in appearances ahead of Congress.
By the mid-1980s A&E had emerged as the sole surviving advertiser-supported cultural cable service, mostly by shopping for programming and constructing a bankable audience by negotiating distribution rights with nearby cable methods.
“After 60 times here, I told my spouse I didn’t feel this factor had a 20 % opportunity, for the reason that each and every time I turned about there was a further impediment,” Mr. Davatzes advised The New York Instances in 1989. “I made use of to say that we had been like a bumblebee — we weren’t intended to fly.”
But they did. A&E grew to become successful within just three many years by offering an eclectic menu of every day programming that, as The Moments set it, “might include a biographical portrait of Herbert Hoover, a plan about the embattled buffalo, a dramatization of an Ann Beattie brief tale and a flip from the stand-up comedian Excitement Belmondo.”
“We really do not want to replicate ‘The A-Team’ or ‘Laverne & Shirley,’” Mr. Davatzes explained to The Periods in 1985. “There is a youthful technology that has never viewed any assumed-provoking enjoyment on tv. They’ve seen a rock star destroying a guitar each 16 minutes, but they’ve under no circumstances noticed classical songs.
“By community expectations,” he ongoing, “our viewership will normally be confined. But that is the functionality of cable — to present plenty of options so that individuals can be their possess programmers.”
Beneath the A&E umbrella, the community encompassed a broad combine of leisure and nonfiction programming. It made a singular id with scripted displays (“100 Centre Road,” “A Nero Wolfe Secret”) and collaborations, like its wildly common co-generation with the BBC of “Pride and Prejudice,” a mini-collection 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 authorities built him a chevalier of the Get of Arts and Letters in 1989. He was inducted into the Broadcasting & Cable Corridor of Fame in 1999.
Following his loss of life, Frank A. Bennack Jr., the executive vice chairman of Hearst, referred to 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 mothers and fathers had been from Greece. Equally his parents worked in the fur trade.
Soon after graduating from Bryant Large School in Astoria, Queens, he gained a bachelor’s diploma in economics in 1962 and a master’s in sociology in 1964, both from St. John’s University, where by he fulfilled his 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 4 grandchildren. Yet another son, Christopher, died before him.
Following serving in the Marines, Mr. Davatzes joined the Xerox Corporation in 1965 and shifted to info technological know-how at Intext Communications Systems in 1978. A buddy launched him to an government at the fledgling Warner Amex cable enterprise, who recruited him around lunch and had him signal a deal drawn on a restaurant serviette. He went to get the job done there in 1980, alongside cable television pioneers like Richard Aurelio and Larry Wangberg.
The Arts & Leisure Community took form in 1983, when Mr. Davatzes aided place the finishing touches on a merger in between two battling cable units: the Amusement Community, owned by RCA and the Rockefeller household, and the ARTS Community, owned by Hearst and ABC.
His system in the starting was twofold: to focus on earning the community more offered to viewers, and not to be diverted by making unique systems, as a substitute concentrating on attaining existing ones.
“If you are in programming, we know that 85 p.c of each and every new exhibit that goes on the air typically fails,” Mr. Davatzes stated in a 2001 job interview with The Cable Centre, an instructional arm of the cable industry.
“Our all round solution is to produce a sane economic design,” he explained in 1985. “I like to convey to folks doing the job for us that we really don’t try to eat at ‘21.’”