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 History Channel, which now access into 335 million homes about the globe, died on Aug. 21 at his dwelling in Wilton, Conn. He was 79.

The lead to was problems of Parkinson’s condition, his son George reported.

Mr. Davatzes (pronounced dah-VAT-sis) was president and main government of A&E, originally the Arts & Enjoyment Network, which he ran from 1983 to 2005 as a joint venture of the Hearst Corporation and the Disney-ABC Tv Group. He launched the History Channel in 1995 and remained a forceful advocate for instructional and community affairs programming, advertising it within the field and in appearances before Congress.

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

“After 60 times here, I advised my wife I didn’t assume this detail had a 20 % prospect, since just about every time I turned all-around there was an additional impediment,” Mr. Davatzes explained to The New York Periods in 1989. “I made use of to say that we ended up like a bumblebee — we weren’t supposed to fly.”

But they did. A&E turned worthwhile within just a few many years by supplying an eclectic menu of everyday programming that, as The Times put it, “might include things like a biographical portrait of Herbert Hoover, a software about the embattled buffalo, a dramatization of an Ann Beattie quick tale and a transform from the stand-up comedian Buzz Belmondo.”

“We don’t want to replicate ‘The A-Team’ or ‘Laverne & Shirley,’” Mr. Davatzes told The Occasions in 1985. “There is a younger era that has in no way seen any assumed-provoking amusement on television. They’ve found a rock star destroying a guitar each individual 16 minutes, but they’ve never ever viewed classical new music.

“By community criteria,” he ongoing, “our viewership will generally be constrained. But that is the operate of cable — to present more than enough options so that folks can be their very own programmers.”

Underneath the A&E umbrella, the network encompassed a wide blend of enjoyment and nonfiction programming. It developed a singular identification with scripted reveals (“100 Centre Road,” “A Nero Wolfe Thriller”) and collaborations, like its wildly well-liked co-output with the BBC of “Pride and Prejudice,” a mini-collection dependent on the Jane Austen novel starring Colin Firth and Jennifer Ehle.

The network ongoing to increase its scope to involve documentary collection like “Biography” “Hoarders,” which could possibly be labeled as an anthropological research of compulsive stockpiling and the Historical past Channel’s encyclopedic scrutiny of Adolf Hitler.

Mr. Davatzes was awarded the National Humanities Medal by President George W. Bush in 2006. The French govt designed him a chevalier of the Buy of Arts and Letters in 1989. He was inducted into the Broadcasting & Cable Hall of Fame in 1999.

Just after his demise, Frank A. Bennack Jr., the executive vice chairman of Hearst, called 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 parents were from Greece. Both his mother and father worked in the fur trade.

Soon after graduating from Bryant Significant Faculty in Astoria, Queens, he acquired a bachelor’s diploma in economics in 1962 and a master’s in sociology in 1964, the two from St. John’s College, exactly where he fulfilled his foreseeable future wife, Dorothea Hayes.

In addition to his son George, he is survived by his wife another son, Dr. Nicholas Davatzes a sister, Carol Davatzes Ferrandino and four grandchildren. An additional son, Christopher, died before him.

Right after serving in the Marines, Mr. Davatzes joined the Xerox Corporation in 1965 and shifted to information technologies at Intext Communications Methods in 1978. A good friend launched him to an govt at the fledgling Warner Amex cable corporation, who recruited him over lunch and experienced him sign a agreement drawn on a restaurant serviette. He went to work there in 1980, alongside cable television pioneers like Richard Aurelio and Larry Wangberg.

The Arts & Entertainment Network took condition in 1983, when Mr. Davatzes aided put the finishing touches on a merger concerning two having difficulties cable methods: the Entertainment Community, owned by RCA and the Rockefeller family members, and the ARTS Network, owned by Hearst and ABC.

His system in the starting was twofold: to aim on creating the community extra accessible to viewers, and not to be diverted by manufacturing authentic applications, as a substitute concentrating on getting present ones.

“If you’re in programming, we know that 85 percent of each and every new demonstrate that goes on the air commonly fails,” Mr. Davatzes claimed in a 2001 interview with The Cable Middle, an educational arm of the cable sector.

“Our total method is to create a sane financial model,” he said in 1985. “I like to explain to people today doing work for us that we don’t try to eat at ‘21.’”