See, CBS Interactive is the parent company of CNET. And while you might think that legal matters at the corporate level would not interfere with journalists’ right to judge an electronics device solely on its technological merits, you’d be wrong in this case.
“The Dish Hopper with Sling was removed from consideration due to active litigation involving our parent company CBS Corp.,” explains CNET in its round-up of the Best-of finalists. “We will no longer be reviewing products manufactured by companies with which we are in litigation with respect to such product.”
The newest Hopper, which includes Slingbox technology to allow users to watch recorded content over the Internet, had been announced as a finalist for the award. In an up-front review still posted on CNET.com, the site describes the still-to-be-released device as “an impressive, very full-featured DVR system that borders on having almost everything you could possibly want.”
“We are saddened that CNET’s staff is being denied its editorial independence because of CBS’ heavy-handed tactics,” said Dish CEO Joe Clayton in a statement. “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.”
In response to critics who say that CBS is censoring what its employees can and can’t write about, CNET says the ban only relates to reviewing the product. Its writers can still do stories about the Hopper and any other product put out by companies involved in litigation with CBS.