Dan Rather to Do Weekly News Show for HDNet

Saying the news "needs backers who won't back down," former CBS anchor Dan Rather confirmed Tuesday that he's joining Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban for a weekly program that begins in October on HDNet.

The one-hour "Dan Rather Reports" will feature field reports, interviews and investigations. Rather will produce the program and be its host.

"Hard news needs backers who won't back down," Rather said. "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."

Rather and Cuban were scheduled to meet with reporters late Tuesday in California.

CBS News and Rather, 74, broke ties after 44 years last month, unable to agree on his future role at the network. His final years there were soured by the controversy over CBS' discredited story on President Bush's military service.

Meanwhile, America Online is also discussing a future role for Rather at the Internet news service, spokeswoman Katie Griesbeck said. She offered no details on what Rather might do at AOL. Those discussions were reported Tuesday by the Hollywood Reporter.

Besides these arrangements, Rather has also agreed to be a panelist for the next two weeks on the syndicated weekender "The Chris Matthews Show." He was interviewed about North Korea on Anderson Cooper's CNN show last week, and will be on CNN's "Larry King Live" on Wednesday.

HDNet has limited exposure, available on some cable and satellite services that offer high-definition programming.

Cuban, co-founder of HDNet, said he was "thrilled" to have Rather.

"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," he said of his fellow Texan.