The once beloved and suddenly beleaguered tech-review site CNET will no longer select the official Best in Show awards at the Consumer Electronics Show because of its ethically questionable situation with parent company CBS, which censored CNET's top award at CES and subsequently invented a conflict-of-interest policy based solely on the interests of CBS.
The Consumer Electronics Association has not only today bestowed its Best in Show title upon the same Dish Network product that started this whole mess in the first place, in the same release, the group says it will no longer work with CNET. "CES has enjoyed a long and productive partnership with CNET and the Best of CES awards," said Karen Chupka, the CEA's senior vice president for events and conferences. "However, we are concerned the new review policy will have a negative impact on our brand should we continue the awards relationship as currently constructed. We look forward to receiving new ideas to recognize the 'best of the best’ products introduced at the International CES."
That's a big blow for CNET, which is still reeling as it struggles to gain back credibility when a censored pick of Dish's Hopper at the annual tech convention earlier this month unfolded into a major scandal that called into question big-media ethics and led to an on-the-fly policy that CNET couldn't touch anything that offended CBS, in the review or news space. In an attempt to help bolster its reputation, CNET offered the following no-hard-feelings statement to The Verge's Tim Carmody:
As the #1 tech news and reviews site in the world, CNET is committed to delivering in-depth coverage of consumer electronics. We look forward to covering CES and the latest developments from the show, as we have for well over a decade.
CNET itself also wrote up the news that the Dish product had won the official CES award, complete with full disclosure of its review policy and what went down with CBS — ostensibly as a way to show that's CNET's still not entirely biased. Though, this forceful statement from CBS is not helping CNET's cause:
CNET is not going to give an award or any other validation to a product which CBS is challenging as illegal, other networks believe to be illegal and one court has already found to violate the copyright act in its application. Beyond that, CNET will cover every other product and service on the planet.
Sources also told Carmody that CNET, in an effort to further distance itself from the controversy, will not try to win back sponsorship of the official best-in-show title. After an eight-year partnership with CNET, the CEA will submit a so-called Request for Proposal to solicit a new organization to produce the show, CEA spokesperson Tara Dunion told The Atlantic Wire.
This latest comes just a day after CEA president and CEO Gary Shapiro wrote a harsh op-ed in USA Today criticizing CBS's "bizarre aggressiveness."