Former 'Dateline' reporter Chris Hansen returns to TV

Former "Dateline NBC" correspondent Chris Hansen, best known for his provocative hidden camera investigation series "To Catch A Predator," is returning to television.

True-crime cable channel Investigation Discovery is to announce Thursday "that Hansen will host a six-part series called "Killer Instinct with Chris Hansen." Debuting this summer, the series will send Hansen out in the field to provide in-depth reporting on what Investigation Discovery calls “some of America’s most horrific crimes.”

In a statement, Henry Schlieff, group president of Investigation Discovery, described the show as “an investigative newsmagazine that will draw the viewer in and make them feel as if they are right there in the moment.” The new series will be co-produced by Britain’s ITN Productions. 

Hansen has not reported on TV since parting ways with NBC News in August 2013. "Dateline’s" format eventually moved away from the kind of stories Hansen specialized in following, making him expendable when his contract came up.  

An Emmy Award-winning 20-year veteran of NBC News, Hansen’s "To Catch A Predator" episodes were a ratings hit and a lightning rod for criticism during their initial run from 2004 to 2007. The investigations, done in conjunction with local police departments and a watchdog group called Perverted Justice, targeted adult men who frequented Internet chat rooms in search of underaged sex partners.  

The watchdog group used decoys to lure the men to locations where a police sting operation was set up. Before suspects were arrested, they underwent on-camera questioning from Hansen.

After asking a suspect to “have a seat,” Hansen was often recognized from the program. The nature of the "Predator" investigations led supermarket tabloids to surreptitiously cover Hansen’s personal life. 

NBC News discontinued the "Predator" investigations not long after one suspect, a Texas prosecutor, committed suicide when police showed up at his home. NBC settled a lawsuit with the man's family.

But "To Catch A Predator" repeats remained a staple of MSNBC’s weekend programming and aired for years on foreign broadcast outlets around the world.