When he’s not involved in his highly visible role as the animated, hands-on owner of the Dallas Mavericks NBA franchise, HDNet Chairman and President Mark Cuban plays a prominent role behind the scenes of the digital revolution. His network has emerged as a key player in the advance of high-definition television, and his acquisition of Dan Rather to helm a hi-def newscast has made news of its own. He recently shared his thoughts on the upcoming “Dan Rather Reports” with TelevisionWeek National Editor Michele Greppi.
TelevisionWeek: How has hiring Dan Rather changed your life?
Mark Cuban: Changed my life? It hasn’t, but I’m incredibly excited to have Dan as part of HDNet. “Dan Rather Reports” is a unique opportunity to create a show driven by his unique talent and drive.
TVWeek: What have you learned about journalism that you didn’t know before Mr. Rather began working for you?
Mr. Cuban: I didn’t look to learn about journalism from Dan. He forgets more in a day than I could ever learn. Dan is the journalist, and I looked at this as an opportunity to let him thrive in that job fully unencumbered.
TVWeek: What have you learned about Mr. Rather that you didn’t know before he actually reported for work?
Mr. Cuban: Dan is incredibly smart, kind, energetic and inquisitive. There is so much more to Dan than we ever saw as a news anchor.
TVWeek: How has your working relationship progressed with Mr. Rather?
Mr. Cuban: We communicate all the time via phone or e-mail. Mostly just updates as needed-sometimes daily, sometimes weekly. It’s usually Dan telling me where in the world he is headed or has been. This is Dan’s show. He has carte blanche. So they are more courtesy updates than anything else.
TVWeek: You recently announced that “Dan Rather Reports” would be delayed until after the midterm elections, when there wouldn’t be so much going on. Did you get taken out of context or misunderstood? What did you actually mean by that?
Mr. Cuban: I meant that I wanted the full attention of the TV media. During the elections, those who write about the media will be consumed writing and talking about the elections and those who cover it. A week later, “Dan Rather Reports” could be the focus of their attention and coverage. That is what I meant. I want to maximize media coverage of the premiere show.
TVWeek: What have you told Mr. Rather you expect or would like from the series?
Mr. Cuban: I haven’t. I told him to take chances, follow his instincts and do the show he always wanted to do.