New Castle News

Closer Look

January 21, 2013

Mitchel Olszak: CBS practices censorship to protect its interests

NEW CASTLE — When it comes to integrity in the field of broadcasting, few can challenge the standing of CBS.

Since the days of radio, this organization has stood out in its commitment to tough-minded, serious journalism. From Edward R. Murrow to Walter Cronkite to the current crop of reporters on “60 Minutes,” CBS has built a reputation no entity can match.

But some tarnish has shown up on the so-called “Tiffany Network.” And it comes courtesy of one of its smaller online operations.

CNET is a website that provides all sorts of information related to technology. It reviews new devices, provides access to computer downloads and in general is designed to assist its users navigate today’s world of high-tech wonders.

And it happens to be a subsidiary of CBS.

Last week, at the annual Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, CNET had planned to present Hopper with Sling — a creation of Dish Network — with the website’s Best of CES Award. But that didn’t happen, because CBS intervened.

CBS said it exercised rare corporate control over CNET, declaring Hopper could not be considered for the award — because the device is in litigation and because of questions over its legality. It just so happens CBS is raising the legality issues, and is suing Dish over the Hopper.

What’s the problem? The name “Hopper” provides a hint. The device allows Dish television viewers to basically “hop” over commercials. It’s a high-tech version of taping a television program and skipping the ads when you watch it.

Now, it doesn’t take a television programming executive to understand why CBS — and other networks for that matter — are upset with the Hopper. They make their money off commercials. And if the general technology makes it simple for viewers to bypass ads without hassle, that’s probably what they will do.

And if the viewership of commercials drops measurably, networks can expect to see their advertising dollars plummet. That raises all sorts of questions about the future of commercial television and how viewers will receive quality programming without cost under these circumstances.

But I suspect most people who watch TV don’t worry about the future in that regard. They’re just looking for instant gratification.

As for CBS, I think its concerns about the Hopper are well founded. I don’t know how the network’s lawsuit against it will pan out. But the worries behind it are perfectly understandable.

But by interfering with CNET’s award, the network engaged in the sort of censorship it normally would condemn. Better to allow the website to do what it wants, and then respond appropriately.

Text Only | Photo Reprints
Closer Look
  • phone.jpg Attorney general warns of phone scams

    Assorted scams in the commonwealth have prompted a warning from the Pennsylvania Attorney General’s Office. Attorney General Kathleen G. Kane said several scams have been reported to the Bureau of Consumer Protection in recent weeks.

    July 30, 2014 1 Photo

  • disability.jpg Disabilities group unveils new icon

    Disability Options Network is joining forces with the Accessible Icon Project. Officials of the community organization, located at 1929 E. Washington St., said its new icon will replace the current international symbol for accessibility.

    July 29, 2014 1 Photo

  • well.jpg Auditor: State doesn’t have enough inspectors to monitor wells

    The state’s 83 well inspectors face a daunting enough challenge keeping tabs on 120,000 active oil and gas wells that have been drilled over the last century.


    July 29, 2014 1 Photo

  • vote.jpg Independent hopefuls may widen gubernatorial field

    Just when Pennsylvania voters were getting used to the idea of a gubernatorial election showdown between Republican incumbent Tom Corbett and Democratic challenger Tom Wolf, other hopefuls may soon be joining the fray.

    July 28, 2014 1 Photo

  • manna.jpg John K. Manna: Measuring the money

    Should we even bother to have an election in November? By some accounts, maybe the results of some contests are already in.

    July 26, 2014 1 Photo

  • shooting.jpg Man injured in city shooting

    A man was flown to a Pittsburgh hospital Thursday morning following a shooting on West Lincoln Avenue.


    July 25, 2014 1 Photo

  • police.jpg Police: Man pulls gun on construction workers

    Construction workers in Neshannock Township flagged down police Thursday claiming a business owner had pulled a gun on them.


    July 25, 2014 1 Photo

  • Shooting.jpg Shooting witness arrested for giving false name

    State police have arrested a second Detroit area man after questioning him about Sunday’s fatal shooting in Ellwood City. DeMarco Dorian Hoskins, 22, of Highland Park, Mich., was the third man in a private car that transported the deceased to look for a hospital. Hoskins allegedly gave police a false identity when they questioned him as witness.

    July 24, 2014 1 Photo

  • bridgerepair.jpg PennDOT seeks outside help to make bridge repairs

    State officials are poised to sign a massive deal that will enlist outside help to rebuild and maintain up to 600 bridges, marking the Corbett administration’s latest foray into privatizing key government functions.


    July 24, 2014 1 Photo

  • GALLO_Natalie.jpg County native plays Clinton intern

    Natalie Gallo isn’t an intern, but she’s playing one on the New York stage.


    July 24, 2014 1 Photo

House Ads
Seasonal Content
Section Teases
Must Read
Continuous Super Bowl Coverage