CEA Drops CNET as 'Best of CES' Partner After CBS Quashed Hopper Award

The Consumer Electronics Association has nixed its deal with tech news site CNET as the official partner of the "Best of CES" awards program, after parent company CBS overruled CNET editors' pick of Dish Network's Hopper with Sling because of the broadcaster's ongoing litigation over the product.

Asked for comment, CBS distributed a statement attributed to Mark Larkin, senior vice president and general manager of CNET, that said: "As the #1 tech news and reviews site in the world, CNET is committed to delivering in-depth coverage of consumer electronics. We look forward to covering CES and the latest developments from the show as we have for well over a decade."

CEA on Thursday said that Dish's Hopper with Sling Whole-Home HD DVR will join the Razer Edge gaming tablet as co-winners of the "Best of Show" award under the "Best of CES" awards program for the 2013 International CES.

CNET editors originally selected the Hopper with Sling as "Best of Show" before CBS barred them from granting the award to the DVR, citing the broadcaster's lawsuit against Dish. "The Dish Hopper with Sling was removed from consideration due to active litigation involving our parent company CBS Corp.," CNET said in explaining the decision earlier this month. "We will no longer be reviewing products manufactured by companies with which we are in litigation with respect to such product."

CBS and other broadcasters is suing Dish over the Hopper's automatic ad-skipping feature. Last week, CEA filed an amicus brief in support of Dish in the lawsuit.

"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," CEA president and CEO Gary Shapiro said in a statement. "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. The simple fact is making television easier to watch is not against the law. It is simply pro-innovation and pro-consumer."

CEA said it will soon issue a request for proposal (RFP) to identify a new partner to run the Best of CES awards program.

In addition to the Hopper brouhaha, a CNET review last week of the Internet TV streaming service from Aereo -- which also is being sued by CBS and others -- carried a disclaimed that read, "CBS, the parent corporation of CNET, is currently in active litigation with Aereo as to the legality of its service. As a result of that conflict of interest, CNET cannot review that service going forward."

Dish president and CEO Joe Clayton, responding to the CEA's post-event award, said in a statement: "We appreciate the International CES' decision to stand with the consumer in the acknowledgement of this award... We look forward to continuing our longstanding relationship with CNET's editorial staff and hope they are able return to their long tradition of unbiased evaluation and commentary of the industry's products and services."

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