CNET acknowledges Dish Network's Hopper won 'Best of CES' award before CBS interceded

CBS maintains debacle was 'isolated incident'
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CNET acknowledged Monday that it planned to award Dish Network (Nasdaq: DISH) its "Best of CES" award before it was ordered by parent CBS Corp. (NYSE: CBS) to drop Dish from the program because of a lawsuit the broadcaster is waging against Dish related to Hopper's ad-skipping capabilities.

While CNET announced last week that it had pulled Hopper from its awards program because of CBS's litigation with Dish, it didn't disclose at the time that its staffers had actually voted to give Dish the "Best in Show" award. But after The Verge reported Monday that CNET planned to give Dish its top honor and CNET reporter Greg Sandoval announced via Twitter that he was resigning, CNET detailed the activities that prompted it to drop Dish from the program.

CNET staffers voted Wednesday night to give the top honor to Dish but were ordered by CBS to remove Hopper from the awards program, Lindsey Turrentine, the editor-in-chief of CNET Reviews, wrote in an article posted Monday afternoon. CNET wanted to release a report last week that explained it had voted to give the award to Dish, but it was ordered by management at CBS Interactive to stick to a statement drafted by CBS Corp., Turrentine said. "We were in an impossible situation as journalists. The conflict of interest was real--a legal case can impact the bottom line of our company and introduce the possibility of bias--but the circumstances demanded more transparency and not hurried policy," Turrentine added.

CBS is one of several broadcasters that filed a copyright infringement lawsuit against Dish last year aimed at forcing it to deactivate AutoHop, a feature on the Hopper that, when activated by subscribers, removes all commercials from primetime programming on CBS, NBC, ABC and Fox.

Dish criticized CNET's move to drop it from the awards program in a statement it issued on Thursday. "We are saddened that CNET's staff is being denied its editorial independence because of CBS' heavy-handed tactics," Dish said in the statement.

CBS said in a statement Monday afternoon that its move block CNET from giving an award to Dish was an "isolated incident," and it insisted that CNET "maintains 100 percent editorial independence."

For more:
- CNET has this story
- The Verge has this story

Related articles:
Dish Network rips CBS for pulling Hopper from CNET's 'Best of CES' Awards
CBS threatens to pull stations from Dish over Hopper dispute
Dish Network adds Sling capabilities to Hopper DVR

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