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Dish Claims CBS Nixed ‘Best of CES’ Award for Ad-Skipping DVR

10 Jan, 2013 By: Erik Gruenwedel

The AutoHop feature is at the heart of ongoing lawsuits filed against Dish by broadcasters

Dish Network Jan. 10 said its controversial Hopper digital video recorder was disqualified from CNET’s “Best of CES” awards program at the last minute due to parent CBS Corp.’s ongoing litigation against the device’s AutoHop commercial-skipping feature.

The satellite TV operator’s new “Hopper with Sling,” unveiled at CES, allows users to watch live and recorded television anywhere on Internet-connected tablets, smartphones and PCs using technology that can transport recorded programming to an iPad without an Internet connection.

CNET earlier in the week named Hopper a finalist for its Best of CES awards, saying the device “almost had it all.”

"We are saddened that CNET's staff is being denied its editorial independence because of CBS' heavy-handed tactics,” Dish CEO Joe Clayton said in a statement. “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, would censor that message is insulting to consumers.”

Clayton said Dish has had a long relationship with CNET's editorial staff and welcomed their unbiased evaluation and commentary of its products and services.

Indeed, the Consumer Electronics Association last November named the controversial AutoHop ad-skipping feature an honoree of its International Consumer Electronics Show Innovations 2013 Design and Engineering Award.

But CBS CEO Les Moonves last fall left no doubt where he stands on AutoHop, which allows users to automatically skip commercials on recorded primetime programming.

Speaking at an investor event last September, Moonves said that should Dish prevail in court, CBS would take its programming off the satellite TV operator’s bundled programming.

“Hopper can’t exist,” Moonves said. “If Hopper exists and [Dish] want[s] to eliminate our commercials, we will not be in business with them. It’s pure and simple.”

Dish is also being sued separately by ABC TV, Fox and NBC. But Clayton remains steadfast.

“Dish is not afraid to stand up for consumer rights and we think that Hopper with Sling will do well, despite the network's questionable actions,” he said.

CNET’s “Best of CES” winners included Razer Edge in gaming category; Lenovo 27-inch Horizon Table PC; Samsung UN85S 4K/UHD TV; Chevrolet MyLink 2nd generation in car tech; Vizio 5.1 soundbar in home theater and audio; Fitbit Flex in wearable health; 3D Systems CubeX in emerging tech; Seagate Wireless Plus in networking and storage; and YotaPhone in mobile.

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