CNET Reporter Quits, Blaming CBS Meddling in Its Editorial

Parent Company Barred Dish's Hopper From CNET's 'Best of CES'

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One of CNET's star reporters, Greg Sandoval, said Monday that he has quit the tech news site because its editorial integrity was in doubt.

Greg Sandoval
Greg Sandoval

"Hello all," Mr. Sandoval posted on Twitter. "Sad to report that I've resigned from CNET. I no longer have confidence that CBS is committed to editorial independence."

"I am not disgruntled," he continued in another tweet. "CBS and CNET were great to me. I just want to be known as an honest reporter. Thanks everyone for reading me," Mr. Sandoval continued.

CNET's journalistic credibility is being challenged after it disqualified Dish Network's latest version of its Hopper DVR from its "Best of CES" awards last week, citing ongoing litigation between Dish and CBS Corp., which is suing Dish over the Hopper's commercial-skipping capabilities.

CNET wrote a positive review of the new Hopper, saying the DVR "almost has it all," but pulled it as a "Best of CES" finalist at the last minute. "The Dish Hopper with Sling was removed from consideration due to active litigation involving our parent company CBS Corp.," CNET said on its website. "We will no longer be reviewing products manufactured by companies which we are in litigation with respect to such product."

A spokeswoman for CNET did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Mr. Sandoval's exit on Monday. A spokeswoman for CBS Interactive said CNET retains editorial independence in covering "actual news."

"CBS has nothing but the highest regard for the editors and writers at CNET, and has managed that business with respect as part of its CBS Interactive division since it was acquired in 2008.," the spokeswoman said in a statement. "This has been an isolated and unique incident in which a product that has been challenged as illegal, was removed from consideration for an award. The product in question is not only the subject of a lawsuit between Dish and CBS, but between Dish and nearly every other major media company as well. CBS has been consistent on this situation from the beginning, and, in terms of covering actual news, CNET maintains 100% editorial independence, and always will. We look forward to the site building on its reputation of good journalism in the years to come."

CBS and the other broadcast networks claim the Hopper violates copyright by allowing consumers to record broadcast programming and automatically skip over commercials during playback. Dish won an early battle in the litigation when a judge denied Fox's request for an injunction.

The Hopper with Sling lets subscribers watch live and recorded TV anywhere on internet-connected tablets, smartphones and computers. It is also introducing an app that moves recorded programs to an iPad, where they can then be viewed without an internet connection.

"We are saddened that CNET's staff is being denied its editorial independence because of CBS's heavy-handed tactics," Dish Network CEO Joe Clayton said in a statement last week. "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."

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