Rather takes job on HDNet

July 11, 2006|By MATEA GOLD | MATEA GOLD,LOS ANGELES TIMES

NEW YORK -- Less than a month after sharply breaking with CBS, former anchor Dan Rather has signed a deal to produce a weekly news program for HDNet, a high-definition channel co-founded by Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban.

When Dan Rather Reports debuts in October, the longtime newsman will have free rein to explore any topic that interests him, said Colette Carey, a spokeswoman for the network. The hourly program will include "hard-edged field reports," interviews and investigative pieces and will be "completely uncensored," according to the channel's news release.

Both Rather and Cuban are scheduled to discuss details about the program during an afternoon appearance today at the semiannual television critics tour in Pasadena, Calif.

"We're thrilled that Dan is now part of HDNet," Cuban said in a statement. "Now that he is finally released from the ratings-driven and limited-depth confines of broadcast television, I am excited about the impact Dan can have on the future of news."

Rather's audience will likely be substantially smaller than the one he enjoyed during his four decades at CBS, since the high-definition channel is available in only about 3 million homes through satellite and cable providers.

But the 74-year-old newsman indicated that he was won over by Cuban's pledge to support unfettered reporting.

"Hard news needs backers who won't back down," Rather said in a statement. "Mark Cuban is such a leader. As a team player I intend to give Mark and HDNet all of the hard work, loyalty and fearless, high-quality reporting possible."

Last month, Rather left CBS before the end of his contract after the network declined to renew his position as a full-time correspondent for 60 Minutes.

Matea Gold writes for the Los Angeles Times.

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