Correction to This Article
A July 10 Style article described HDNet, a high-definition channel that has hired Dan Rather, as being available through satellite television services. It is also carried on about 40 cable systems, including Adelphia and RCN in the Washington area.

Rather to Host 'Fearless' Show on HDNet

By Howard Kurtz
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, July 10, 2006

Dan Rather is about to announce his comeback.

Three weeks after being let go by CBS, the former anchor has agreed to launch a program called "Dan Rather Presents" on HDNet, the high-definition channel owned by billionaire entrepreneur Mark Cuban.

"We are excited about it," Cuban, owner of the Dallas Mavericks basketball team, said yesterday. He described the show as "an opportunity to do news in what I like to call 'fearless mode,' what Dan calls 'with guts.' Go out there and find the stories we think will have impact."

Rather, 74, plans to announce the new venture this week at the television critics' tour in Los Angeles. He moved to "60 Minutes" after relinquishing the anchor chair last year, but complained last month that CBS had not offered him a meaningful role during contract talks.

HDNet, available on the DirecTV and Dish satellite networks, reaches about 3 million homes, a small fraction of the audience for the broadcast networks. But Cuban said that as a premium network featuring news, sports and entertainment, it should be compared instead to such pay channels as HBO and Showtime. "Like HBO, we don't program for ratings, we program for happy subscribers," he said. "We think 'Dan Rather Reports' fulfills that goal and then some."

He added: "Traditional broadcast and cable news is all about numbers. Get a pretty face, pay for it in the upfront," the annual conference for advertisers. " 'How does MSNBC beat Fox?' The lead story is never the reporting or news itself."

HDNet plans to roll out the Rather program in October.

© 2006 The Washington Post Company