CBS puts CNET in another unethical situation
by Chris Roush
Tim Carmody of The Verge writes that tech news site CNET is once again in ethical hot water because of its parent CBS Corp.
Carmody writes that CNET’s story about live-TV startup Aereo is primarily a story about CBS’s lawsuit against Aereo instead of a product review.
Carmody writes, “CNET’s news story on Aereo, written by managing editor John P. Falcone, includes what might be called review content. Falcone writes that ‘Aereo [is] squarely 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 also notes that Aereo’s retransmission of live TV ‘offers a unique delineation’ from Netflix and Hulu, and compares Aereo favorably to its live-TV competitors Boxee TV and Simple.TV. Finally, Falcone notes, linking to a pre-ban CNET review of Aereo, that the update largely addresses concerns CNET raised in that review.
“Much of the story, however, consists of background on CBS, ABC, NBC, and Fox’s lawsuits against Aereo. It notes that Aereo streams the networks’ broadcasts without their permission. It explains how the retransmission fees not paid by Aereo are important to the TV networks’ profit margins. But the story does not anywhere explain Aereo’s defense that assigning each customer a unique antenna in its facility puts Aereo’s service within the boundaries of the law. Aereo, from this perspective, is no different from a DVR.
“As AllThingsD’s Peter Kafka writes, the ‘CNET story about Aereo is mostly about parent company CBS’ lawsuit with Aereo.’ But even with respect to that lawsuit, or the history of CNET’s coverage, it’s not the whole story. The whole story may be impossible for CNET to tell without compromising its objectivity, its corporate owners, or both.”
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