Group says CBS tossed principle when it nixed journos’ award to Dish Hopper.
At the 2013 CES convention, CNET’s editorial staff loved the Dish Hopper DVR and nominated it “Best in Show.” That journalistic decision was quickly tossed out, however, by the legal department at CBS, CNET’s corporate parent. CBS is involved in litigation against Dish over the Hopper.
The censoring of CNET’s decision has produced a fair bit of fallout for CBS already. The company has been criticized in many quarters for silencing its journalists. Greg Sandoval, a well-known writer for CNET, even left the company, saying he was concerned that his employer didn’t respect editorial independence.
Now, CES itself has put out a press release slamming CNET’s behavior and announcing that CNET won’t be allowed to produce the “Best of CES” awards anymore. Those awards are produced by CNET under contract with the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA), which puts on CES. CEA said it will work to identify a new partner to run the Best of CES awards.
“We are shocked that the ‘Tiffany’ network which is known for its high journalistic standards would bar all its reporters from favorably describing classes of technology the network does not like,” said CEA President Gary Shapiro in the statement.
Shapiro went on to express his view that a time- and space-shifting technology like the Dish Hopper is protected by the famous “Betamax” decision which legalized the VCR. “We believe that the Dish Hopper DVR is fully covered by the Supreme Court’s ruling in Sony Corp. of America v. Universal City Studios Inc.,” said Shapiro. “The simple fact is making television easier to watch is not against the law. It is simply pro-innovation and pro-consumer.”
Shapiro had even stronger words for CBS in an op-ed published yesterday in USA Today.
“CBS … will never be viewed again as pristine,” wrote Shapiro. “The ethical media rule is that corporate business interests should never interfere in journalism—or at least not so blatantly, publicly, and harmfully. It made me wonder if 60 Minutes had ever suffered the same treatment.”