Monday, January 14, 2013

CBS can't stop progress

CNET, the powerhouse digital publication for all things tech, released its "Best of CES" last week and one of the nominees was the Dish Hopper with Sling, the auto ad-skipping DVR from Dish Network... until it wasn't.

If you visit their Nominee Page now and scroll down to the very bottom you get this statement:
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 anyone ever wondered about the impartiality of the press, wonder no more.

Clearly someone at CBS said to the publisher of CNET, "Hey, these guys are trying to break our business model. You can't give them an award." And the publisher of CNET, liking his job very much, said "No problem."

By making CNET pull its nomination, CBS is now allowing the Hopper to play a role in the erosion of two of its businesses. Not only is the Hopper a threat to the ad-supported revenue model the network was built on, but its sudden exclusion from the Best of CES list brings into question the most important asset CNET has, its editorial integrity.

Millions of people have trusted CNET for what was believed to be impartial reviews of technological gadgetry. I used it last week when deciding which new television to buy. Yet, if its editorial independence can be so easily undermined by those on the business side of the publication, how can anyone trust anything they write?

CBS needs to stop trying to make time stand still and begin to create a new reality in which traditional advertising and appointment viewing are no longer the be-all-and-end-all of network television. Pulling petty, vindictive stunts like this hurts their brands much more than it will slow the advance of technology that is coming whether they like it or not.

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