Nick Davatzes Dead: Cable Pioneer Behind A&E and History Was 79

Nickolas Davatzes, longtime CEO of A+E Networks who steered the start of A&E Community and History Channel, died Saturday at his house in Wilton, Conn. He was 79.

Davatzes joined the organization as CEO in 1983 just as A&E Networks was shaped via the merger of fledgling cable channels Leisure Network, owned by RCA and the Rockefeller loved ones, and ARTS Network, owned by Hearst and ABC. A+E Networks right now is a 50-50 joint undertaking of the Walt Disney Co. and Hearst Corp. Davatzes served as CEO emeritus.

Davatzes led the company’s start of the signature A&E Community (an amalgam of Arts and Amusement) in 1984 and Historical past Channel in 1995 (Background formally dropped “Channel” from its moniker in 2008). He served as CEO of the dad or mum corporation by way of 2005, when he was succeeded by protege Abbe Raven, who commenced at the organization as a secretary.

Raven, now chairman emeritus of A+E Networks, termed Davatzes her “mentor, winner and expensive friend” and a cable pioneer. Disney executive chairman Bob Iger hailed him as a “towering figure in the early times of cable television (who assisted) make some of the most iconic brands in the media landscape.” Iger added that he was “a person of true integrity.”

Raven also emphasized Davatzes’ management as a programmer and as a part product for executives at a time of heady expansion for the cable Television set small business.

“He established the regular for excellence in television programming, integrity in business and remarkable management. His travel and enthusiasm for good quality programming led A&E and the Historical past Channel to come to be foremost brands, together with iconic courses these types of as ‘Biography,’ in the U.S. and across the world,” Raven claimed. “Nick was accountable for generating and nurturing a culture of creativeness and innovation.”

The son of Greek immigrants who grew up in New York City, Davatzes was a Marine Corp. veteran who served from 1964 to 1965. In excess of his long profession in media he gained several accolades from military service and related corporations, which include other civic and specialist accolades. Between them ended up the Nationwide Humanities Medal presented by President George W. Bush in 2006, his 2005 induction into the Cable Television Hall of Fame and the Chevalier des Arts et Lettres medal bestowed by the French government in 1989.

“Nick Davatzes made an indispensable contribution to the growth and success of A+E,” stated Frank A. Bennack Jr., government vice chairman and previous CEO of Hearst. “He was an exceptionally gifted and strongly fully commited head of (A&E and Record) for decades when they grew to domestic and global prominence. He was, importantly, for me, for (Hearst CEO) Steve Swartz and all of Nick’s close friends at Hearst, a beloved colleague who will be deeply missed.”

Just before becoming a member of A+E NEtworks, Davatzes was schooled as an executive at Xerox, the place he rose as a result of the ranks from 1965 to 1977 in numerous corporate and field running posts. He segued into facts know-how at an opportune time in heritage at Intext Communications Systems from 1978 to 1980. He moved into media future as an HR and administration government for cable program operator Warner Amex Communications.

Davatzes was regarded for selling educational outreach and the importance of market R&D in the course of his run at A&E Networks. The business afterwards expanded to consist of the Lifetime cable channel as properly as additional the latest entries like way of living channel FYI and Life time Movie Network.

“Nick was an incredible individual and leader, and a single of the accurate giants of the cable field,” stated Paul Buccieri, A+E Networks Team president and chairman. “Nick thought in the ability of media not only to brighten people’s life, but also to notify and enrich communities. He leaves a large legacy of assist for instruction and the humanities. Nick is at the coronary heart of almost everything that is A+E Networks and was the soul of our group. All of us owe a fantastic debt to Nick and he will be sorely skipped.”

Davatzes acquired a B.A. in 1962 and an M.A. in 1964 from St. John’s University, and afterwards he served on the school’s board of trustees. He did postgraduate experiments at New York University. He was inducted into the Broadcasting & Cable Hall of Fame in 1999.

Davatzes is survived by his spouse of 38 many years, Dorothea Hayes Davatzes two sons, George and Nicholas and 4 grandchildren. He was predeceased by a son, Christopher.