PR Fail: CBS Bans Dish Products from CES Awards Consideration

Yesterday brought news of the most interesting story to emerge from this year’s Consumer Electronics Conference. It’s a classic tale of media ethics gone wrong, and we see it as a major PR fail.

Despite being America’s worst employer, Dish Network occasionally comes up with some cool tech innovations. Prime example: the Hopper with Sling DVR that gives users the power to enjoy “live streaming of every channel from anywhere”. Yeah, it’s a big deal, and CES organizer C|NET nominated the Hopper for its “Best of CES” awards. One problem, though: Fox, CBS and pretty much every major network has filed suit against Dish for allowing viewers to “hop” or skip over all commercials. Oh, and CBS is CNET’s parent company.

So what did CBS do? They banned all Dish products from CES awards consideration/promotion, citing the ongoing lawsuit. Not only is CNET prohibited from giving the award to dish–they can’t even review any Dish products. Here’s the disclaimer:

The Dish Hopper with Sling was removed from consideration due to active litigation involving our parent company CBS Corp. We will no longer be reviewing products manufactured by companies with which we are in litigation with respect to such product.

If you think this resembles a blatant case of shutting down the competition, you’re right.

Dish CEO Joe Clayton wrote of being “saddened by CNET’s staff being denied its editorial independence”, and he has a very valid point.

We see this as an interesting, very public example of the ongoing battle for the future of television and traditional advertising. Products affected by the ban include Aereo, the independent streaming-TV service that some see as a sign of things to come (to the chagrin of every network/ad executive in the world).

We’re obviously not Dish Network’s biggest supporters, but we can’t see this story winning CBS any news fans. We, for one, like them even less than we used to–and these are the same jerks who gave us Two and a Half Men.