Nickolas Davatzes: Founder of A+E Network and Hall of Famer dies at 79
Longtime CEO of A+E Networks, Nickolas Davatzes who launched A&E Network and History Channel died on Saturday, August 21 at his home in Wilton, Connecticut at the age of 79.
“Nick Davatzes made an indispensable contribution to the growth and success of A+E,” said Frank A. Bennack Jr, executive vice-chairman and former CEO of Hearst. “Additionally, if any individual can be thought of as the father of The History Channel, the highly successful franchise born out of A+E, it was Nick. He was an incredibly talented and strongly committed head of both channels for decades when they grew to domestic and international prominence. He was, importantly, for me, for Steve Swartz and all of Nick’s friends at Hearst, a beloved colleague who will be deeply missed. Our condolences go to his wonderful family and all who loved him.”
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Bob Iger, executive chairman of The Walt Disney Company said of Davatzes: “Nick was a towering figure in the early days of cable television, helping build some of the most iconic brands in the media landscape. An incredible leader, Nick was a person of true integrity and was always a wonderful partner to all of us at Disney. Our deepest condolences go out to his family and to all of our friends and colleagues at A+E Networks.” Paul Buccieri, president and chairman of A+E Networks Group, also remembered Davatzes in a tribute and said, “Nick was an extraordinary person and leader, and one of the true giants of the cable industry,” he said. “He launched A&E and The HISTORY Channel, two of the most successful brands in television. Nick believed in the power of media not only to brighten people’s lives but also to inform and enrich communities. He leaves a tremendous legacy of support for education and the humanities. Nick is at the heart of everything that is A+E Networks and was the soul of our organization. All of us owe a great debt to Nick and he will be sorely missed.”
Davatzes became a part of the A+E Network in 1983 and served as president and CEO of the network until 2005 when he was succeeded by Abbe Raven. In a statement, Raven called him “an incredible leader, innovator, mentor, and humanitarian” who “set the standard for excellence in television programming, integrity in business and extraordinary leadership.” In 1995, Davatzes launched The HISTORY Channel. He advocated for education and public affairs initiatives in the cable industry and in 2006, he was presented with the National Humanities Medal by George W. Bush. In November of 1999, Davatzes was inducted into the Broadcasting & Cable Hall of Fame.