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

FBI app prepares parents for worst case scenario, app helps when kids go missing FBI app prepares parents for worst case scenario, app helps when kids go missing

Before the weekend that kicks off summer vacations, the FBI is asking parents to download their Child ID cell phone app. It's an app that prepares parents in case their child goes missing.

Google Got Out Of That $9B Oracle Lawsuit Scot-Free Google Got Out Of That $9B Oracle Lawsuit Scot-Free Oracle says it will appeal the ruling.
Virtual Reality Could Bring Crime Scenes To The Courtroom Virtual Reality Could Bring Crime Scenes To The Courtroom Researchers are exploring the possibility of using virtual reality in European courtrooms.
Is your smartphone listening in on your private conversations?

Is your smartphone listening in on your private conversations?

Sony Has Sold 40 Million PS4s And Isn Sony Has Sold 40 Million PS4s And Isn't Slowing Down It moved about 5 million consoles in less than six months.
A Bus In China Can Actually Straddle Traffic A Bus In China Can Actually Straddle Traffic This bus can pass over most passenger cars.
America America's Nuclear Operations Run On Floppy Disks The Government Accountability Office revealed that the federal government spent about $61 billion on maintaining old computer technology in 2015.
NASA inflating new experimental room at space station NASA inflating new experimental room at space station

NASA is releasing air into an inflatable room delivered last month by SpaceX. If all goes well, the pod will swell four times in volume and demonstrate a new way of living for astronauts. 

Tim Cook Sees iPhones Everywhere, Even In A 17th-Century Painting Tim Cook Sees iPhones Everywhere, Even In A 17th-Century Painting Apple CEO Tim Cook joked that a 17th-century painting he saw in Amsterdam depicts the first iPhone.
This 3-D Printed Motorcycle Is Like No Bike You This 3-D Printed Motorcycle Is Like No Bike You've Ever Seen The motorcycle's aluminum body is strong and lightweight.