Vision Media / World Progress Report = scam?
September 17, 2010 10:20 AM   Subscribe

As first reported on NPR back in April, Vision Media targets non-profits with promises of exposure on PBS stations around the country, but the promised spots (supposedly hosted by Hugh Downs) never actually air. Now, they seem to have resurfaced as World Progress Report, as reported by Public Citizen.

The NPR audio link has different content from the text story at that link, and Public Citizen did such a good job pulling together links about this story, I see no reason to duplicate their efforts here.
posted by hippybear (8 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
It's sad that Hugh Downs does host infomercials (on late night TV) about medical "information" books about natural cures.
posted by ALongDecember at 10:52 AM on September 17, 2010

When I hear the voice of Hugh Downs, I immediately think "scam".
posted by Seymour Zamboni at 11:18 AM on September 17, 2010

Hah! I got a similar offer about a technology-oriented show "hosted by Mark Hamill."

"Sounds great!" I said.
"OK, here's our price list!" they said.
"Bite me!" I said.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 11:31 AM on September 17, 2010

I suppose it's not actually that hard to get a low-level celebrity involved with something like this. From the article, it sounds like Downs only worked on it for one day, reading intros for a bunch of different videos. He probably didn't pay a lot of attention to how this "service" was being pitched to nonprofits.
posted by roll truck roll at 12:19 PM on September 17, 2010

It does make me wonder. It seems strange that places like the Daily Show, NPR and EconTalk all promote books and music and other crap for sale on a regular basis. I've wondered, do people pay for this product placement? If not, how exactly do these producers select these segments over and over again?
posted by pwnguin at 12:30 PM on September 17, 2010

pwnguin, there's sometimes (but not always) a correlation with parent companies: you see guests from other Viacom properties on The Daily Show relatively frequently. But aside from that, my understanding is that people at those shows read a lot of publicity packets.
posted by roll truck roll at 12:48 PM on September 17, 2010

(And anyone who knows more than I do, please feel free to correct me.)
posted by roll truck roll at 1:06 PM on September 17, 2010

It seems strange that places like the Daily Show... all promote books and music and other crap for sale on a regular basis.

Well, The Daily Show is, at its heart, a talk/comedy show not a lot different from Late Night or The Tonight Show. It's daily, it's topical, it tapes before an audience in the evening before it airs, it has skits and guests who come on to talk about a wide variety of topics. Just because the basic premise of the show is "television news and sharp political satire" rather than "hanging out with friends at a cocktail party", doesn't really change the nature of the beast.

Viewed from that standpoint, it's unsurprising that TDS has guests on promoting books and movies and stuff all the time. It's part of the promotional circuit. In fact, TDS is often the LAST promotional stop on many circuits. (Many guests have spoken to this fact over the years.)

If TDS were something more like an actual news program, its roster of guests would be quite different.
posted by hippybear at 1:10 PM on September 17, 2010

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