One of the stranger stories among many to come out of this year's annual Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas occurred on Thursday evening, when technology blog CNET abruptly announced it was disqualifying from its "Best of CES" awards the satellite TV company DISH's "Hopper with Sling" DVR (digital video recorder) product, due to CNET's parent company CBS's ongoing litigation with DISH. As CNET wrote in a note attached to the bottom of its otherwise positive review:
Editors' note: The Dish Hopper with Sling was removed from consideration for the Best of CES 2013 awards due to active litigation involving our parent company CBS Corp. We will no longer be reviewing products manufactured by companies with which we are in litigation with respect to such product.
CNET and CBS were immediately subjected to a barrage of criticism on Twitter and by other tech writers and blogs, who pointed out the clear conflict of interest and editorial issues involved in the decision. DISH itself released a lengthy statement blasting CBS. As DISH CEO Joe Clayton said in a canned statement:
“We are saddened that CNET’s staff is being denied its editorial independence because of CBS’ heavy-handed tactics. This action has nothing to do with the merits of our new product. Hopper with Sling is all about consumer choice and control over the TV experience. That CBS, which owns CNET.com, would censor that message is insulting to consumers."
CNET's Twitter account attempted to defend the move, writing the ban would apply to "only those products involved in active litigation. Applies only to reviews, not news."