A&E Television Networks (AETN) announced that after 21 years at the helm of the company, Nickolas Davatzes will be stepping down effective April 1, 2005. Abbe Raven, who is currently president of A&E Network-USA, will succeed Davatzes to become the second president/ ceo in the companys history. Davatzes will assume the title of ceo emeritus and, in transitioning to retirement, will remain an adviser to AETN from its offices in Stamford, Connecticut. His is the longest tenure of any cable programming chief executive in the industrys history.
Raven has been president of A&E Network-USA since Sept. 2004. Previously, she was its evp/gm since 2002. Prior to that, she was evp/gm of The History Channel. Raven began her career in cable television in 1982 in production for Daytime and Arts, which later was spun into Lifetime Television and AETN. Since A&E Networks launch in 1984, she has taken on a number of executive responsibilities.
In my AETN career, Ive held tight to three big dreams: to turn A&E Television Networks into a billion-dollar company, to develop a leadership plan for the future, and to bow out at the top of my game, Davatzes said. Im incredibly fortunate today to say that those dreams have come true, thanks to the aid of an incredible staff of gifted professionals and also to the support of Hearst, ABC and NBC, which believed in A&E Television Networks from the very beginning.
Davatzes continued, Im confident that, under the leadership of Abbe Raven, AETNs future will be equally bright as its past. For more than two decades, Ive watched Abbe take on some of AETNs greatest challenges-from formulating the programming strategy for The History Channel to reaching the youngest demographic ever for A&E Network and programming some of the best known shows on TV today, such as GROWING UP GOTTI, COLD CASE FILES and DOG THE BOUNTY HUNTER. She has been an indispensable partner in shaping our domestic networks from the very beginning.
Raven said, Im excited to lead A&E Television Networks into the future. There couldnt have been any better preparation than having Nick Davatzes as a role model. He has set the standard for excellence in programming, integrity in business and strong leadership. Our dedication to being a top entertainment company with the leading brands in television is resolute, and I am privileged to lead AETN in our next stage of growth.
Under Davatzes leadership, A&E Television Networks has produced years of record revenue and profits. He is credited with one of the most successful launches in television history for the debut of The History Channel in 1995. Since its inception in 1983, AETN has expanded well beyond its flagship U.S. channel, the A&E Network-USA, to launch eight additional successful businesses: The History Channel, The Military History Channel, The Biography Channel, History International, The History Channel en Español, Crime & Investigation Network, AETN Consumer Products and AETN International. AETN channels and programs are now available in more than 130 countries, reaching in excess of 230 million TV households.
Nick Davatzes has been the very best business partner The Hearst Corp. could ever have hoped for, said Victor F. Ganzi, president/ceo of The Hearst Corp. But Im equally privileged to call him a friend. Back in the early eighties, cable programming was a brave new world for Hearst. After 21 years of success, I believe that Nick is precisely the kind of person Id trust to navigate unchartered waters. I can think of no one better prepared or more uniquely experienced to guide A&E Television Networks into the future than Abbe Raven. Abbes leadership skills are vast, and Hearst looks forward to working with her for many years to come.
What Nick Davatzes has achieved with AETN is legendary, said Anne Sweeney, co-chair, Disney Media Networks. Nick has always appreciated cables potential to captivate the American public. Im extremely confident that Abbe Raven will be an excellent bold new ceo to lead and grow AETN.
Nick Davatzes shaped not one but two of the most successful cable channels in history, said Bob Wright, vice chairman/ceo of General Electric Co. and chairman/ceo of NBC Universal. When Nick launched A&E Network and The History Channel, he established the model for the rest of the industry to emulate. Im not sure whether anyone in the business has worked harder than Nick, but I do know that AETN is doubly lucky to have Abbe Raven as his successor. Abbe is a highly-skilled programmer and an outstanding choice to lead A&E Television Networks to new levels of success.
As president of A&E Network-USA, Raven has been responsible for its and The Biography Channels strategic planning, programming, consumer marketing, brand development, public relations, on-air promotions and day-to-day operations of the networks. In 2003, Raven implemented a highly-successful strategy to attract A&E Networks target demographic: adults 25-54. Over the past year, she has greenlighted several new primetime series and five original movies for 2004-2005, including the critically acclaimed AIRLINE, GROWING UP GOTTI, DOG THE BOUNTY HUNTER, IKE: COUNTDOWN TO D-DAY, THE RIVERMAN and THE FIRST 48. Under Ravens stewardship, A&E Network-USA was honored with a record 24 Emmy nominations, has experienced double-digit growth in ratings and overall impressions, and was named Network of the Year 2004 by SWEEPSBOOK (CableSweeps).
A&E Television Networks is a joint venture of The Hearst Corporation (37.5%), The Walt Disney Companys Disney-ABC Television Group (37.5%) and General Electrics NBC Universal (25%). The A&E Network-USA website is located at www.aetv.com, the Biography website at www.biography.com and The History Channel website at www.historychannel.com.
The Hearst Corp. (www.hearst.com) is one of the nations largest diversified communications companies. Its major interests include magazine, newspaper and business publishing, cable networks, television and radio broadcasting, Internet businesses, television production, newspaper features distribution and real estate.
The Walt Disney Company (disney.go.com) is a diversified, international entertainment and media company whose operations include theme parks and resorts, filmed entertainment including motion pictures and television shows, home video products, records, consumer products, a cruise line, radio and television stations, broadcast and cable networks, Internet offerings, publishing activities and professional sports enterprises.
NBC Universal (www.nbcuni.com) is one of the worlds leading media and entertainment companies in the development, production and marketing of entertainment, news and information to a global audience. Formed in May 2004 through the combining of NBC and Vivendi Universal Entertainment, NBC Universal owns and operates the No. 1 television network, the fastest growing Spanish-language network, a valuable portfolio of news and entertainment networks, a premier motion picture company, significant television production operations, a leading television stations group and world-renowned theme parks. NBC Universal is 80%-owned by General Electric, with 20% controlled by Vivendi Universal.