After CNET Snub, CEA Awards ‘Best of CES’ to Dish Hopper

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The drama between CBS/CNET and Dish Network racheted up a notch today with the Consumer Electronic Association (CEA), which hosts CES, announcing that the Dish Hopper will win the Best of CES award after all.

CNET, which partnered with the CEA to award the Best of CES earlier this month, initially selected the Dish Hopper as the trade show’s best gadget. But CBS, CNET’s parent company, stepped in and ordered CNET to rescind the award since CBS is currently embroiled in litigation with Dish.

CNET editors reluctantly agreed, and the site announced that it would no longer review products from companies that CBS is suing – a group that also includes Aereo. News about those firms is still fair game, CNET said.

That decision, however, did not sit well with the CEA, which announced today that it would name the Dish Hopper and the Razer Edge Gaming Tablet as Best of Show awardees.

Karen Shupka, senior vice president of the Internetional CES, said the CEA was “so disappointed” to learn about CNET’s decision.

“This year’s finalist selection process goes against everything that we stand for, which is why we need to take our own action,” she said. “The CNET editors selected the Dish Hopper as the winner of the CNET Best of CES Awards. That is a fact that has been verified by many. As producer of the International CES, we feel that it is important for our brand and for those companies who participate in CES that we that we do the right thing and recognize both products, the Dish Hopper and the Razer Edge Gaming Tablet as the Best of CES winners.”

At issue is a lawsuit filed last year by TV networks – including CBS – that accused Dish of violating copyright law with a commercial-skipping feature in its Hopper DVR. The service can automatically record all primetime content from ABC, CBS, Fox, and NBC at the same time. A user’s recording will then automatically skip the commercials, turning the Hopper experience into something akin to Netflix.

“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 and CEO Gary Shapiro. “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.”

Shapiro said the CEA is currently looking for a new partner to run the Best of CES awards, and will soon issue a request for proposals.

In a statement, Dish president and CEO, Joseph Clayton, said the company appreciated the CEA’s move. “With today’s announcement, the Consumer Electronics Association demonstrates the roles innovation and leadership must play in our industry,” he said.

“I regret that the award has come in the face of CBS’s undermining of CNET’s editorial independence,” he continued. “We look forward to continuing our longstanding relationship with CNET’s editorial staff and hope they are able to return to their long tradition of unbiased evaluation and commentary of the industry’s products and services.”

For more, see PCMag’s review of the Dish Network Hopper With Sling.

By Chloe Albanesius, PCMag


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