The Consumer Electronics Association, a trade organization that represents 2,000 technology companies and runs the International Consumer Electronics Show, announced today that the Dish Hopper with Sling HD DVR is joining the Razer Edge gaming tablet as a co-winner of the 2013 Best of Show in the CES awards program. The CEA also designated the Dish Hopper a 2013 Design and Engineering Award Honoree at CES.
CNET, which produced the Best of Show awards program under contract with the CEA, originally voted the Dish Hopper with Sling as the winner. The Dish Hopper product was taken out of the competition owing to CNET's parent company CBS' ongoing litigation with Dish over its AutoHop ad-skipping technology, which allows customers to record the entire prime-time lineup and automatically skip commercials. After the Dish Hopper product was removed from consideration, CNET's editors voted to give the Best of Show award to the Razer Edge gaming tablet.
CBS, along with NBC (Comcast), Fox (News Corp.) and ABC (Disney), has filed suit against Dish Network over its AutoHop feature. The networks maintain that the ad-skipping feature will destroy the advertiser-supported ecosystem and that Dish doesn't have the right to tamper with advertising from broadcast replays for its own economic and commercial advantage.
"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," a CBS spokesperson said.
CNET's product reviews policy states that its editors will not review any product or service that is currently involved in active litigation with CBS Corporation with respect to the legality of the product or service. The Dish Hopper and Aereo TV streaming service currently fall into that category.
The CEA -- together with the Computer and Communications Industry Association and the Internet Association -- filed an amicus brief supporting Dish's versus the broadcast networks last week before the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals that argued: "In sum and substance, the Hopper merely enables the consumer to perform the same actions as the old VCRs or other DVRs, just more efficiently." The brief relies heavily on the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling in Sony v. Universal City Studios, which held that recording TV programming for personal use is legal and that devices that make the recordings are not liable for copyright infringement.
In a statement, CEA president Gary Shapiro said that "making television easier to watch is not against the law. It is simply pro-innovation and pro-consumer."
CEA said that it plans to issue a request for proposal (RFP) to identify a new partner to run the Best of CES awards program.
"CES has enjoyed a long and productive partnership with CNET and the Best of CES awards," said Karen Chupka, senior vice president, events and conferences for CEA. "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."
"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," said CNET General Manager Mark Larkin.