Petrovich, who would have turned 64 on Feb. 28, died Thursday in New York City, said his nephew, Ron Petrovich.
A widely respected broadcast executive, Petrovich joined the AP in 2007. As Vice President for Broadcast U.S. Operations, he oversaw the day-to-day domestic operations, working with AP's broadcast wire, online, radio and television platforms.
Petrovich "deeply understood and loved the broadcast business and was very optimistic about the possibilities of digital media," said Sue Cross, AP's senior vice president of U.S. media markets. "He was a force in encouraging our broadcast teams to explore new ways of delivering news, and always a source of inspiration and humor."
Petrovich served as executive vice president of CNN for 15 years, where he developed CNN Interactive, which produces CNN.com., CNN en Espanol and many of the company's niche channels. He was instrumental in developing CNN's news service to affiliates and its airport network.
He also held the title of president of Turner Broadcasting Latin America for two years.
Former CNN president Tom Johnson said Petrovich was brought in by Ted Turner to run CNN's Headline News, which he built into a prominent presence on the cable spectrum.
"He was a tremendous innovator and a creative force," Johnson said. "He really was somebody who helped lead CNN into the future."
Before joining AP, Petrovich was a professor and chairman of the broadcast department at the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University in Evanston, Ill. He served as visiting distinguished lecturer and on the school's board of advisers in the 1990s.
He oversaw international networks for Sony Television.
Besides news, Petrovich's passions included fine food and dining. He "at least tried to find every great restaurant in every city throughout the world," recalled his nephew, Ron.
A native of Gary, Ind., Petrovich began his career in 1970 as a reporter at WHAS-TV in Louisville, Ky. While news director at WBAL-TV in Baltimore, the station won an Edward R. Murrow Award for best regional newscast.
Besides his nephew, Petrovich is survived by his wife, Karen, a daughter and a son, and three grandchildren.
AP writer Joni Baluh Beall in Washington contributed to this story.