For those of you coming into this story late, back in January, the CNET editors had already selected the newest iteration of the Hopper to win its Best Of CES award at the mammoth, international electronics convention in Las Vegas.
But then, after the decision was made but before it was formally announced, CNET’s parent company CBS told CNET it could not give the award to the Hopper because CBS (along with the other broadcast networks) is currently in litigation regarding the version of the device currently on the market. So instead, the award went to another product, the Razer Edge, and CNET posted a disclosure on the nominees page explaining why the Hopper had been removed from consideration.
It soon became public knowledge that the Hopper was the rightful winner of the award. In the wake of all this news, a CNET reporter quit rather than be told what he could and couldn’t cover, and Dish just decided to give itself the award, turning lemons into marketing lemonade.
CBS has continued to stand by its ban on products involved in litigation with the network, recently telling CNET editors they could write about but not review a new update to Aereo, a start-up service that streams live broadcast TV over the Internet.
Then today, the folks at the International CES and the Consumer Electronics Association declared that the Hopper and the Razer Edge will share in the Best of Show award.
“The CNET editorial team identified the Hopper Sling as the most innovative product of the show, and we couldn’t agree more,” said Karen Chupka, senior vice president, events and conferences for the CEA, which recently filed an amicus brief in support of Dish in its lawsuits with broadcasters. “The Hopper with Sling and the Razer Edge both represent the best of the exciting, innovative technology introduced at the 2013 CES. We are pleased to recognize both products as Best of Show.”
“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.”
And with that, the split between the Best of CES awards and CNET appears to be final.
CEA says it will soon be asking for proposals from other sponsors for its awards.
“CES has enjoyed a long and productive partnership with CNET and the Best of CES awards,” stated Chupka. “However, we are concerned the new review policy will have a negative impact on our brand should we continue the awards relationship as currently constructed.”
UPDATE: A rep for Dish sent the following statement to Consumerist from DISH President and CEO, Joseph Clayton–
“We appreciate the International CES’ decision to stand with the consumer in the acknowledgement of this award. With today’s announcement, the Consumer Electronics Association demonstrates the roles innovation and leadership must play in our industry.
“I regret that the award has come in the face of CBS’ undermining of CNET’s editorial independence. 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.”