CNET Dumped As CES Judge After CBS Overlords Trump Its Credibility

By Alexandra Burlacu email: a.burlacu@mobilenapps.com | Feb 01, 2013 12:07 PM EST

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The Consumer Electronics Association (CEA), the industry group that hosts the annual International CES tech-fest, has dropped CNET as judge of its "Best of CES" awards.

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Apparently, CNET has lost its credibility as far as CES is concerned, after its CBS overlords forced it to compromise its reviewers' objectivity. In other words, it's all about politics.

What Happened? 

CNET's initial pick for the best gadget of the show was Dish Network Corporation's Hopper with Sling. CBS, however, is in a legal dispute with Dish over the product, so it annuled CNET's vote to award the Hopper the best gadget title. Dish's gadget allows users to automatically skip commercials for prime-time TV shows, which means it undercuts an essential source of revenue for CBS - advertising.

CBS consequently removed the Hopper as the winner, so CNET staff had to re-vote and ultimately picked Razer Edge. However, CEA was not happy. It dropped CNET as the judge of its "Best of CES" awards, and it also elevated CNET's initial choice, the Hopper with Sling, as the co-winner alongside the Razer Edge gaming tablet. The association said it is now looking for a new partner for its awards.

CEA president Gary Shapiro blamed CBS in an opinion article the USA Today newspaper published on Wednesday, Jan. 30, arguing that its interference compromised it is own editorial integrity.

"It not only tainted the CES awards, but it hurt one of the world's classiest media companies," blasted Shapiro.

The CEA has been hosting the gadget show since 1967 and in 2007, it contracted CNET to pick the awards. The association normally chooses not to get involved, as it has a relationship with many of its exhibitors.

"As the No.1 tech news and reviews site in the world, CNET is committed to delivering in-depth coverage of consumer electronics," said Mark Larking, CNET's general manager. "We look forward to covering CES and the latest developments from the show as we have for well over a decade."

For Dish, meanwhile, the whole controversy drew more attention to its product.

"We appreciate the International CES' decision to stand with the consumer in the acknowledgement of this award," said Dish CEO Joseph Clayton in a press release. "I regret that the award has come in the face of CBS' undermining of CNET's editorial independence."

CNET takes pride in being the world's top tech news and reviews Web site, and CBS' involvement sparked such outrage that a senior CNET writer quit his job in protest. CBS tried to assure angered masses that its interference with the awards was a one-time-only incident, and only because the product in question was challenged as illegal. Messing with CNET's credibility, however, is a bit too much, as far as many are concerned.

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