CNet Dish 'Hopper' CBS controversy: Corporation blocks CNet praise for legal foe Dish

Just one day after CNet named the Dish "Hopper," a new TV recording system that's drawing rave reviews in the tech press, to an awards shortlist, the site's parent company stepped in and nixed the accolade. Because of a legal battle between CBS and Dish over the Hopper's ad-skipping technology, CBS laid down a ban: CNet won't be allowed to even review Dish products, much less give them awards.

CNet quickly cut the Hopper out of the running for its "Best in Show" award at the annual Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, which is taking place this week. Cnet's current finalist page includes 28 other products from CES, with a new note at the bottom.

"The Dish Hopper with Sling was removed from consideration due to active litigation involving our parent company CBS Corp," Cnet's note reads. "We will no longer be reviewing products manufactured by companies with which we are in litigation with respect to such product."

A representative from CBS Interactive sent an identical statement to CNNMoney when asked for comment. The Consumer Electronics Association, which runs CES, did not respond to a request for comment.

CBS's blunt move highlights how ferocious the Dish Hopper fight has become -- and it gave Dish an opportunity to garner even more coverage of its new DVR. A Cnet article posted on Monday, before CBS's edict came down, calls the Hopper "an impressive, very full-featured DVR system that borders on having almost everything you could possibly want."

The litigation isn't exclusive to CBS. Dish is also mired in lawsuits with General Electric's NBC, News Corp.'s Fox, Disney's ABC and other networks over the Hopper, which lets users record up to six channels at once and automatically skip commercials for primetime network shows.

Bob Tozes, Dish's head of corporate communications, said the company was "flummoxed" by the CBS move.

"[CNet] had come by our booth with a list of the finalists and lapel buttons, which we wore proudly," Tozes said. "We were all excited about it. That's praise well earned."

But the next day, Tozes said, a CNet rep called him about 25 minutes before the unveiling of the winners at 11 a.m. local time on Thursday: "They said, "Look, you've been removed from consideration.' We were disappointed, of course."

Dish immediately cried foul.

"We are saddened that CNet's staff is being denied its editorial independence because of CBS's heavy-handed tactics," DISH CEO Joe Clayton said in a written statement sent widely to press.

Dish gleefully included a link to Cnet's tweet announcing the Hopper as a finalist, plus a link to CNet's earlier review.

Tozes, the Dish communications head, said he doesn't think the Hopper review will be CNet's last for Dish products.

"I don't think that's full the end of the story, because it doesn't seem to be an entirely plausible position," Tozes said. "What does it mean for the rest of the industry? Who gets reviewed and who doesn't? Who is a appropriate gatekeeper? But that's not really about us. The press is debating that."

Ironically, CNet's own handling of tricky editorial content on sites it owns has come under fire before. In 2007 -- a year before CBS bought Cnet -- Jeff Gerstmann, a reviewer at CNet-owned Gamespot, left the company soon after posting a mixed review of a game from Gamespot advertiser Eidos. Gaming news site Kotaku reported that he was fired under pressure from Eidos.
 
™ & © 2013 Cable News Network, Inc., a Time Warner Company. All rights reserved.


Comments

More Science/Tech stories

Can College Pride Turn Video Games Into A Mainstream Sport? Can College Pride Turn Video Games Into A Mainstream Sport? For the first time, ESPN aired a video game competition Sunday, and it got a lot of attention. But was it a novelty, or a sign of things to come?
Facebook Messenger now lets you make video calls Facebook Messenger now lets you make video calls

The new function launched in 18 countries, including the U.S., U.K., Norway, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, France, Greece, Ireland, Mexico, Oman, and Nigeria, on Monday.

R.I.P.T.: Looks Like The R.I.P.T.: Looks Like The 'Silent Hill' Reboot Is Cancelled Konami is pulling the "P.T." demo of its "Silent Hill" reboot from the digital shelves, and key members of the project say it's over.
What Is What Is 'Call of Duty: Black Ops III' Trying To Say? The "Call of Duty: Black Ops III" trailer seems to be commenting on the dangers of our ever-increasing use of technology.
Why Corporations Try To Merge When Approval Looks Unlikely Why Corporations Try To Merge When Approval Looks Unlikely From the beginning, the Comcast-Time Warner Cable proposed merger appeared to have too many obstacles to overcome. So why sink so much money into it?
The First Apple Watch Apps Have Some Limitations The First Apple Watch Apps Have Some Limitations Reviewers find the first wave of apps for Apple's new smartwatch run into both software and hardware constraints.
What What's Behind Apple's Launch Strategy For Watch? Apple changed up it's launch strategy for Watch, showing that it views the device differently than its other products.
Salesforce Salesforce's CEO Wants To Eliminate The Gender Pay Gap Marc Benioff says he'll review the salaries of all 16,000 employees at his company to ensure everyone gets equal compensation.
Comcast says it Comcast says it's over: It won't try to merge with Time Warner Cable

Comcast is reportedly cutting the cord on its massive $45.2 billion deal to take over Time Warner Cable.

Tesla Tesla's Billionaire CEO Accepts $1 Per Year From The Company Elon Musk has paid himself California's minimum wage for the past two years, but he only kept $1 and returned the rest to Tesla Motors.