December 5, 2022

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Did Somebody Say Business?

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

Nickolas Davatzes, who was instrumental in making the cable tv networks A&E and the Record Channel, which now achieve into 335 million households all over the globe, died on Aug. 21 at his house in Wilton, Conn. He was 79.

The result in was troubles of Parkinson’s disease, his son George stated.

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

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

“After 60 times in this article, I instructed my wife I did not believe this factor experienced a 20 per cent prospect, due to the fact every single time I turned all over there was one more impediment,” Mr. Davatzes instructed The New York Periods in 1989. “I made use of to say that we were being like a bumblebee — we weren’t intended to fly.”

But they did. A&E grew to become worthwhile in just three several years by giving an eclectic menu of daily programming that, as The Times place it, “might incorporate a biographical portrait of Herbert Hoover, a application about the embattled buffalo, a dramatization of an Ann Beattie brief tale and a switch from the stand-up comedian Excitement Belmondo.”

“We never want to replicate ‘The A-Team’ or ‘Laverne & Shirley,’” Mr. Davatzes advised The Instances in 1985. “There is a youthful era that has by no means found any believed-provoking enjoyment on television. They’ve noticed a rock star destroying a guitar each and every 16 minutes, but they’ve never witnessed classical new music.

“By network benchmarks,” he ongoing, “our viewership will constantly be restricted. But that is the purpose of cable — to present more than enough possibilities so that persons can be their possess programmers.”

Underneath the A&E umbrella, the network encompassed a wide mix of amusement and nonfiction programming. It developed a singular identity with scripted exhibits (“100 Centre Road,” “A Nero Wolfe Secret”) and collaborations, like its wildly well-liked co-output with the BBC of “Pride and Prejudice,” a mini-series based mostly on the Jane Austen novel starring Colin Firth and Jennifer Ehle.

The network continued to develop its scope to include things like documentary collection like “Biography” “Hoarders,” which could be categorized as an anthropological examine of compulsive stockpiling and the Record Channel’s encyclopedic scrutiny of Adolf Hitler.

Mr. Davatzes was awarded the Countrywide Humanities Medal by President George W. Bush in 2006. The French authorities created him a chevalier of the Order of Arts and Letters in 1989. He was inducted into the Broadcasting & Cable Corridor of Fame in 1999.

Just after his death, Frank A. Bennack Jr., the govt vice chairman of Hearst, identified 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 parents have been from Greece. Both equally his mother and father labored in the fur trade.

Right after graduating from Bryant Higher Faculty in Astoria, Queens, he attained a bachelor’s diploma in economics in 1962 and a master’s in sociology in 1964, the two from St. John’s University, wherever he satisfied his upcoming wife, Dorothea Hayes.

In addition to his son George, he is survived by his wife one more son, Dr. Nicholas Davatzes a sister, Carol Davatzes Ferrandino and 4 grandchildren. Another son, Christopher, died ahead of him.

Right after serving in the Marines, Mr. Davatzes joined the Xerox Company in 1965 and shifted to data technological know-how at Intext Communications Techniques in 1978. A good friend released him to an govt at the fledgling Warner Amex cable organization, who recruited him over lunch and had him indicator a agreement drawn on a restaurant serviette. He went to function there in 1980, together with cable tv pioneers like Richard Aurelio and Larry Wangberg.

The Arts & Amusement Network took form in 1983, when Mr. Davatzes aided put the finishing touches on a merger involving two having difficulties cable techniques: the Amusement Community, owned by RCA and the Rockefeller loved ones, and the ARTS Network, owned by Hearst and ABC.

His approach in the commencing was twofold: to focus on producing the network more offered to viewers, and not to be diverted by creating first courses, as a substitute focusing on buying existing types.

“If you’re in programming, we know that 85 % of just about every new clearly show that goes on the air usually fails,” Mr. Davatzes stated in a 2001 job interview with The Cable Centre, an academic arm of the cable marketplace.

“Our over-all strategy is to build a sane economic model,” he reported in 1985. “I like to convey to people doing work for us that we never consume at ‘21.’”