The satellite company had high hopes that its new Hopper with Sling DVR would win CNET’s widely watched “Best of CES” award after the tech news and review site named it a finalist and gave it an enthusiastic review, but CNET changed its mind before the awards were announced today. CNET says it removed the new Hopper from consideration “due to active litigation involving our parent company CBS Corp.” which says the DVR’s ability to automatically skip over ads in recorded shows violates the network’s copyrights. What’s more, CNET says “We will no longer be reviewing products manufactured by companies with which we are in litigation with respect to such product.” Dish Network CEO Joe Clayton considers this is a free speech issue. “We are saddened that CNET’s staff is being denied its editorial independence because of CBS’ heavy-handed tactics,” he says. “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.” He adds that Dish has “had a long, productive relationship with CNET’s editorial staff and we look forward to continuing that relationship. We welcome their unbiased evaluation and commentary of our products and services.” With the Hopper out of the running, the CNET “Best of Show” award went to the Razer Edge gaming tablet which it calls “a device you could take on a trip and use as your full computer, or plug into someone’s TV and play games with.”
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