The founder of A&E and History, Nickolas “Nick” Davatzes, has passed away in its home in Wilton, Connecticut, on Saturday at the age of 79.“Nick was an extraordinary person and leader, and one of the true giants of the cable industry. He launched A&E and The HISTORY Channel, two of the most successful brands in television,” Paul Buccieri, President and Chairman, A+E Networks Group, said in a statement.
Davatzes, who served as the former CEO Emeritus of the network, also contributed as the President of A+E from 1983 to April 2005. The venture between Hearst Communications and Disney-ABC Television Group began with one channel, led entirely by Davatzes. “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.”
In November 2006, the cable television veteran and U.S. Marine Corps soldier was awarded the National Humanities Medal by President George W. Bush to celebrate his countless contributions. “Nick was a towering figure in the early days of cable television, helping build some of the most iconic brands in the media landscape," Disney executive chairman Bob Iger said. "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.”
He also won the Marine Corps Historical Foundation Heritage Award, the U.S. Navy Memorial Foundation’s “Lone Sailor” Award, an inductee into the Broadcasting & Cable Hall of Fame, the Cable Television Public Affairs Association’s (CTPAA) President’s Award for his commitment to public outreach and educational initiatives, the Vanguard Award for Programming from the National Cable Television Association, and the “Chevalier des Arts et Lettres” by the French Government, all relating to the A+E presence he instilled all around the world. “Nick Davatzes made an indispensable contribution to the growth and success of A+E,” Frank A. Bennack Jr., executive vice chairman and former CEO of Hearst, said in a statement. "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.”
Nick was an extraordinary person and leader, and one of the true giants of the cable industry. He launched A&E and The HISTORY Channel, two of the most successful brands in television.” Paul Buccieri President and Chairman, A+E Networks Group