Dish accused CBS of demanding that "The Big Bang Theory" star Kaley Cuoco delete a Tweet endorsing a Dish product after TheWrap noted that Cuoco was promoting the satellite company -- even as her network sues it.
Dish says it paid Cuoco to tweet an endorsement of Dish's Hopper service, which is at the center of the legal fight between the networks and Dish. The litigation is over a feature of the Hopper that enables Dish subscribers to watch previously aired primetime shows -- like "The Big Bang Theory" -- without commercials.
Cuoco's representatives did not immediately reply to requests for comment. CBS and Warner Bros. TV, which produces "Big Bang Theory" and employs Cuoco, declined to comment. But soon after TheWrap inquired about the tweet Wednesday, it was removed from the actress' feed.
Dish was caught off-guard by the tweet being deleted, and accused CBS Thursday of silencing its star.
"It's disappointing that CBS – once the exemplar of editorial independence and innovation – continues to use its heavy hand to hold back progress from consumers," DISH president and CEO Joe Clayton said in a statement.
Dish is known for its tough negotiations and for getting under the skin of networks with which it has conflicts. Recruiting Cuoco, the star of one of CBS's top shows, might seem an ideal way to rankle the network. But Dish said it paid her for the tweet because of her influence, just as it has paid others online to endorse its products.
Cuoco, who has more than 1.2 million Twitter followers, is one of many people who have found that they can make extra money from the burgeoning field of Twitter endorsements. The actress, who has done TV ads for Toyota and Priceline, is one of several people who tweeted the Dish ad for money -- though Dish could not list any who were stars of the networks suing it.
The networks say the Hopper's ad-skipping Auto Hop technology threatens the ad-supported television models that allows shows like "The Big Bang Theory" to exist. In May, before the networks sue, CBS CEO told TheWrap that he considers the technology "illegal."
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- Kaley Cuoco