CBS leans on CNET even more

CNET’s relationship with its parent company CBS has become even more ridiculous after the outfit’s hacks were told not to cover court cases relating to the company.

Recently, CNET was told that it could no longer publish any reviews objectively. Instead any product must be submitted to CBS to make sure that it could not be used for “piracy”.  If CBS executives believed that the product could be used to do anything that they did not like then it would be censored.

At the time, CBS said that this only applied to reviews and not news. CNET would remain as credible on the news front as it ever did, a CBS spokesperson claimed.

However, it turned out that was not the case. It was revealed that CNET hacks were not allowed to cover court cases where CBS is involved.

It all started when a story about Aereo, written by managing editor John Falcone, includes the comment that Aereo was on the bleeding edge of the growing array of cable TV alternatives, due to its improved Roku app, addition of cable channel Bloomberg TV, and planned expansion to 22 more US cities.

He linked to a pre-ban CNET review of Aereo, and then provided shedloads of background on CBS, ABC, NBC, and Fox’s lawsuits against Aereo. The story does not explain Aereo’s defence that assigning each customer a unique antenna in its facility makes the service legal. 

In other words CNET has gone from being told that it is not allowed to review products, it has to provide biased stories against them.

Hacks at the outfit are furious and morale is dropping down the loo. A meeting last week told them that there would not be a policy reversal so they would just have to do what they were told.

As Boing Boing’s Rob Beschizza wrote, the assumption seems to be that CNET’s editorial culture is too weak to stand up for itself. CBS is in charge and has directed its lawyers to take control over editorial operations.