We here at TVRage have covered the legal battles involving Dish Network's "Hopper" DVR pretty extensively in the past, but today brought a unexpected wrinkle into the equation for one tech website and the large television corporation that owns them.
The website CNET.com's reviews of TVs, computers, and various gadgetry have long been a go-to source for many, due to the sheer thoroughness and seemingly unbiased reporting presented within. Sadly, that may all change now, as top contributor Greg Sandoval abruptly quit the site this morning. Sandoval made the announcement publicly, via Twitter. His complaints stem from a recent editorial panel of CNET reporters choosing Dish Network's "Hopper with Sling" device as the best new product to come out of this year's Consumer Electronics Show or CES.
Unfortunately, the site's parent company CBS Corp. (which obviously also owns the TV network of the same name) brought the hammer down on the decision, due to on-going legal proceedings happening between the "Eye" and Dish over the Hopper's controversial ability to auto-skip commercials. Thus, the CNET staff was ordered to re-vote, and pick a new product for the "Best of CES" crown. While they did end up voting for a Vizio soundbar, this situation struck Sandoval as a clear conflict of interest by CBS, and constituted direct interference with the editorial independence of CNET reporters.
For her part, CNET Reviews editor-in-chief Lindsey Turrentine posted a full explanation of what happened to the front page of the site earlier today. It's surprisingly frank, and can be read in full here. I'm honestly a bit shocked that CBS even allowed them to run that, as it doesn't cast the company in a great light. CBS has refused to take interviews on the matter, but a prepared statement suggests that the situation is "isolated and unique", and that it involves a product which "has been challenged as illegal”. The company also maintains that when it comes to "actual news" CNET is still 100% editorially independent. Although they neglected to clarify what they mean by the phrase "actual news".
What do you guys and gals think? Did CBS overstep its bounds? Will the Hopper eventually be ruled to be an illegal device?