We recently pointed out that the latest name for Vision Media TV appeared to be World Progress Report
, and it appeared to be doing the same thing that it has been heavily criticized for by both the New York Times
. Basically, it's the same deal: they hire a semi-famous retired news person (such as Walter Cronkite, Hugh Downs and Joan Lunden) and get them to film a generic "opening" to a "report" about some organization (usually a non-profit), with the claim that such programs will appear on "public television." Then they approach the non-profits about having a news segment done about them (heavily name dropping the current "star") for "public television." Then they drop the news that the organization needs to pay the "production costs," which run anywhere from $20,000 to $30,000. A poorly edited clip is filmed, which never airs on PBS. In fact, PBS has put a warning on its website
specifically calling out the company under various names and suggesting if you're contacted by any of them to notify PBS so it can complain:
PBS wishes to clarify that it is not associated with and does not endorse, distribute programming for, review underwriting for or otherwise have any business relationship with the following production companies: American Artists Television, American Review TV, Business Break TV, Business Trends, Eco Planet TV, Event Media TV, Evergreen Entertainment, Family Television Studios, Food For Thought TV, Giving Back, Global Television Studios, Great America (with Hugh Downs), Healthy Path, Heroes of Hope, Infinity Media Group, Insights, Paradigm Media Group, Platinum Group, PMG, PMGTV, Roadshow Productions, United Media Communications Group, Vision Media, Vision Media Television, VM Television, VT Media, VT Media Productions, or World Progress Report (with Joan Lunden). PBS does not oversee the production or distribution of any programs associated with any of these companies.
If you are solicited by a production company that claims or implies an association with PBS, please notify PBS.
However, one of the oddities about World Progress Report was the fact that it was putting out a bunch of press releases
promoting a program on "scams." While at first people thought this was just irony, Paul Levy notes that it seems to have the effect of burying any Google results that call World Progress Report a "scam."
By this new strategy, World Progress Report is loading up the search results both for its own name, and for its name combined with the word "scam," with reports about its supposed public television programming. As a result, the information that impartial critics are calling it a scam are being buried in a welter of search results for its own self-promotion.