CBS-Dish tiff prompts resignation at CNET

Reporter exits over ethical concerns

A reporter at CNET resigned Monday over concerns about “editorial independence” after the news organization withdrew a nomination at its own awards show for a product manufactured by Dish at the behest of parent company CBS Corp.

Greg Sandoval, who covers the media business for the technology-oriented news website, tweeted notice of his resignation. “CNET wasn’t honest about what occurred regarding Dish is unacceptable to me,” he said. “We are supposed to be truth-tellers.”

Dish and CBS–in addition to other broadcasters–have been embroiled in a legal standoff over Hopper, a DVR that allows the satcaster’s subscribers to skip over ads in primetime programming recorded the previous night. Dish may have further aggravated the situation just days earlier by announcing new features to Hopper that will allow subs to watch programming outside of the home or download programming for offline viewing–rights that the satcaster’s programming partners aren’t believed to have licensed.

A CBS spokesman issued a defense of the company’s actions following Sandoval’s resignation. “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. 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.”

Sandoval added, “Please know no one in News or Reviews editorial did anything wrong. I believe CNET’s leaders are also honest but used poor judgment.”

A CNET editor confirmed Monday the Hopper had actually won CNET’s “Best in Show” honors at its Best of CES Awards, but was told to recast the vote as a result of CBS Corp.’s objections toward the device.