(Corrects paragraph 11 to reflect statement was a quote, fixes
garble in headline)
* 'Hopper with Sling' was up for Best of CES award
* CBS says product pulled due to litigation
By Liana B. Baker
Jan 10 No. 2 satellite provider Dish Network
and No. 1 broadcaster CBS Corp are clashing
again, this time over accolades from the Consumer Electronics
Show in Las Vegas.
Dish's chief executive, Joe Clayton, accused CBS Corp
on Thursday of meddling in an industry award competition
and disqualifying Dish because of a lawsuit between the two
On Monday, Dish unveiled the latest version of its
controversial digital video recorder at the Consumer Electronics
Show in Las Vegas. Dubbed the "Hopper with Sling" for its
"Hopper" recorder and "Sling" transmission technology, the DVR
has new features such as the ability to stream live TV and
recorded programs outside the home.
Dish is already embroiled in a legal battle with all the
major broadcast networks, including CBS, over the DVR's first
iteration, and may spark more disputes with its updated version.
"We are saddened that CNET's staff is being denied its
editorial independence because of CBS' heavy-handed tactics,"
Clayton said in a statement.
CNET, a technology blog owned by CBS that publishes reviews
of products as well as news stories, chooses the winners of the
"Best of CES" awards that are given out every year after the
CBS Interactive, the unit that oversees CNET and other CBS
digital assets such as Metacritic and CBSSports, confirmed that
the product was "removed from consideration due to active
litigation involving our parent company CBS Corp."
CBS added that "CNET will not review any products that are
specifically the subjects of current litigation."
The Consumer Electronics Association, the group that puts on
the conference, slammed CBS on Thursday, accusing the media
company of depriving CNET readers full access to information
about Dish's products.
"We are extremely disappointed that CBS has interfered with
CNET's 'Best of CES' awards...We call upon CBS to reconsider its
decision," the group said in a statement.
The group added, "Due to a pending lawsuit, CNET parent CBS
is practicing effective censorship over CNET's editorial staff."
This isn't the first war of words between Dish and CBS. In
September, Clayton called CBS' CEO Les Moonves a "bully" for
threatening to pull the no. 1 broadcast network CBS off Dish's
systems if it continues to market the ad-skipping capabilities
of the Hopper.
The Hopper has an "autohop" function that allows subscribers
to skip commercials automatically when they are watching
recorded shows. Dish maintains that the product is something its
14 million subscribers desperately want. But CBS and its
broadcasting brethren - Disney's ABC, Comcast's
NBC, and News Corp's FOX - argue that Dish is
undermining the networks' key source of revenue: advertising.
Charlie Ergen, chairman and owner of Dish, has appeared in
many highly public spats with companies and has taken his fights
to courts across the country.
Analysts say Ergen loves leverage, or getting the upper hand
over other companies, which may be the reason he finds himself
in so many corporate battles. On Tuesday, Dish made a surprise
$2.28 billion bid for wireless company Clearwire Corp, setting
the stage for a takeover battle with Sprint Nextel S.N.
(Reporting by Liana B. Baker; Editing by M.D. Golan, Andrew Hay
and Jim Loney)