World Progress Report Promotes Program About 'Scams'; Helps Hide All The Complaints That It's A Scam

from the seo-tactics dept

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 and NPR. 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.

Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 4th, 2010 @ 7:00am

    Streisand effect

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2. identicon
    DS, Oct 4th, 2010 @ 7:34am

    If you do a search for "World Progress Scam", they are failing miserably. You still see legit articles on how World Progress is indeed a scam, and how exactly World Progress is a scam.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3. icon
    Dark Helmet (profile), Oct 4th, 2010 @ 7:37am

    Trade mag/news scam

    This is pretty typical in the trade mag space as well, though slightly different. You say you're going to write an article on a company but request either that they buy overpriced advertising in the story, or that they hand over a list of their business associates that are then aggressively hit up for this as well. I was briefly involved with one of these companies until I realized what they were all about.

    All it took was me mistakenly coming across their "circulation numbers" (they only send the quarterly mags to subjects of the stories and the advertisers) and I was outta there....

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 4th, 2010 @ 7:39am


    I don't think that means what you think it means.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 4th, 2010 @ 8:11am


    Heck, this very article is currently on top of the Google search for me.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6. identicon
    Barbra Streisand, Oct 4th, 2010 @ 8:33am

    A Star is Born.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7. icon
    Josef Anvil (profile), Oct 4th, 2010 @ 8:52am

    Gotta love it

    You just have to appreciate the fact that they are clever enough to bury their scam in search by using SEO techniques.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8. icon
    Hephaestus (profile), Oct 4th, 2010 @ 9:18am

    hmmm ....

    That is actually pretty brilliant. I don't think it will work very well though.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9. identicon
    Mike, Oct 4th, 2010 @ 10:23am


    Ahh, their scumbaggery knows no bounds!

    These clowns should definitely be in politics.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10. icon
    Danny (profile), Oct 4th, 2010 @ 11:08am


    Actually, no.

    As sleazy as they are, I have to give them credit for figuring this out. Unless it was just luck they fell into it.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11. icon
    The eejit (profile), Oct 4th, 2010 @ 1:58pm

    Re: Brilliant?

    God no. It would be like yelling "Fire!" in a crowded theatre.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12. identicon
    Patti Maxwell, Oct 8th, 2010 @ 4:30am


    I also was contacted by a women whose name was tina. She said she was a producer from a show who was hosted by joan lunden. She asked for the owner's phone number, reluctent I got her name and number and said we would get back to her. It was a scam! Thanks Tina for wasting my time!

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 11th, 2010 @ 6:03am


    You really want to see how they run business? go rent "Boiler Room"

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  14. icon
    Cenk (profile), Dec 27th, 2010 @ 8:25pm

    World Progress Report

    I was called one day by someone from the "World Progress Report" and told about how I could get coverage on PBS about a type of alternative medical practice that is becoming popular that I am interested in. Then they wanted a fee of about $23,000 plus $3,500 for an on location shoot to produce the 3 minute video that would be aired on TV in all 50 states. My neighbors told me this sounded like a scam. Public TV told me that they never charge money for an interview and that World Progress report was a scam. They are still trying to collect money from me right now. I have filed several compliants in the State of Florida and else where about World Progress Report. I do not know how they got my name in the first place.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  15. identicon
    Lexie Mcdonald, Mar 1st, 2011 @ 12:33pm

    Re: scam

    these people tried to scam us too! under the name healthwise md with joan lunden. thank goodness we caught on soon enough because they are very convincing

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  16. identicon
    Deborah Wong, MD, Mar 3rd, 2011 @ 4:21am

    joan lunden healthwise

    I received a phone call from a gentleman who stated his name was Bruce Blake and that he was THE producer of Healthwise MD hosted by Joan Lunden on PBS. Spent almost an hour on the phone with him. I am a physician who practices integrative and anti aging medicine, he said Healthwise MD was doing a 15 part series on anti aging, bioidentical hormones, integrative medicine, and that my name came up via Web MD. Bottom line, several different things he is doing in connection w/ the series, said would send application, if i qualify and he assured me that if "everything checks out" he would highly recommend me and that basically if he recommends the individual, board gives him an automatic go.
    I was very excited for this opportunity to be a part of really getting the word out there as i am passionate about this MD supervised, advanced wellness and mostly natural approach to preserving quality of life and vitality until our last day of life. It is cutting edge now, very slowly being accepted by mainstream, traditional medicine; ins. co's won't support this, even though it has now been well proven/researched/highly reputable and most of all effective and natural approach which allows individuals to enjoy a great quality of the second half of their lives. Just to get the message out there, that alone made me feel even more inspired. he stated the program would air 65 times, 20-22 times/mo also 6-8 min piece on internet; also 1 min piece "commercial" on OWN,Fox News. Estimated 71 million viewers. Also something he termed "narrow casting" something about involving a focused audience with moderate based referrals, gave a number of 50-60 billion. Sounded very exciting as this is real science and it truly is life changing, i have seen it in action, personally with my patients. Of course i was thinking wow, maybe they'll even compensate me, how cool would that be, but just like an infomercial at the end, after emphasizing how many people this would drive to my website (still under development, to be up soon), he said for all the traffic it will drive to my website, also would get a hard copy of the identity tape, book and promotion, all this for a one time fee of 22,000 which after misc. fees totals to only $26,400.
    So, is this for real, and usually the way it works is that producers recruit and pay the people they wish to appear on their show. Please advise.
    Thank you.
    Deborah Wong, MD

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  17. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 7th, 2011 @ 12:08pm

    Re: joan lunden healthwise

    Dr. Wong, If you're affiliated with a hospital or university, please consult the media relations staff there. I'm afraid this is an increasingly well-known scam. Google "joan lunden and vision media" or "world progress report and joan lunden" or an earlier incarnation of the program "hosted" by Hugh Downs. I'm sorry to tell you, since you were clearly excited by the possibility.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  18. identicon
    steve parcell, Mar 8th, 2011 @ 7:23pm

    healthwisemd scam

    Is this really a scam? If so how do I report it? They have been talking to me...very convincing.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  19. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 22nd, 2011 @ 5:13pm

    OMG! Did they really assume ANOTHER name?!

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  20. identicon
    Land Shark, Mar 22nd, 2011 @ 5:17pm

    Re: healthwisemd scam

    Steve, RUN DON'T WALK!

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  21. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 23rd, 2011 @ 2:08pm

    They are apparently doing this with lawyers too.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  22. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 23rd, 2011 @ 2:22pm


    Not saying its the same thing, but the bait is the same woman ((Joan Lunden) and the lead-in is that this is a documentary series, and at the end there is a switch to a $20,000+ fee to help underwrite this programming, necessary to underwrite the costs of their good work, since they don't charge PBS, essentially.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  23. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 25th, 2011 @ 11:47am


    Joan Lunden should know better. She's clearly getting very bad advice from her lawyers and her press people, for allowing her name to be ruined by these people. Shouldn't she at least call Hugh Downs and compare notes? They're both ABC alumni after all.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  24. identicon
    c parnes, Apr 9th, 2011 @ 4:34pm

    Joan Lunden Scam

    The same woman named Tina contacted me. The name of the company is now lifeline with Joan Lunden. So beware of that new name

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  25. identicon
    Anonymous, Apr 27th, 2011 @ 4:46am

    Re: joan lunden healthwise

    A TOTALSCAM!! Now they call themselves

    Everyone is afraid of them. They have so much money, we fear for our lives to speak illly of them, but can't get the Feds Involved, maybe because they have been paid off, who knows... The owners own Churches and call themselves Christians, but they are anything but! I wish I could find a lawyer to take them down - take the case on a contingent basis. It is so against anything I stand for.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  26. identicon
    Donalds, May 7th, 2011 @ 11:21am

    This program is BIG 2011.


    I Think this program is BIG 2011. These people just mint the money from people LIKE U & ME. Here is my Own experience after joining this program. First, I joined as an affiliate and thinking that I am receiving commission $0.10 for each Click. I TRUSTED & joined for "Form Filling Job" on APRIL-26th-2011. I paid $10 for "Form Filling Job" & These people send me the details about the "Adposting Job" they send me an Email with Pdf files & steps along with few FREE classified websites to advertise their website & my affiliate weblink.
    - See how clever these people are they just wanted to advertise their website first & then our affliate link at the bottom. But most of the VISITERS just click on the website But not on our affiliate links. So, we Lose those affiliate commissions.
    - But, my main councern is about the way this program works..."How can these people send me "Adposting Job" if I PAID for "Form Filling Job"?
    - I send an email immidetly about this to their Support link they provided "" & "" on 29th April 2011 but till date 3rd MAY 2011 no reply email from these support people. I even raised a Support ticket from the "" for HELP about this ISSUE...HUh! No Reply...
    - I subscribed at the link provided at "". I also have the PROOF of all the Sent EMails, My Order ID for the ""Form Filling Job".
    - We work for all day just posting our affiliate links & finally NO the end of the month...we just see the commision date in our account...But not into our POCKET...:(
    - Please alert all your friends who joined this program or you are WORKING for Nothing..RIGHT?
    - If you Don't TRUST me just send a request email for HELP for the program you are working from your END.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  27. identicon
    Sloth, Jun 24th, 2011 @ 12:45pm

    Apparently yet a new name for these guys

    Just spent an hour on the phone with a Jesse Geets, and this is their new website/name:

    Same story. Everybody beware.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  28. identicon
    Paul jackson, Jul 5th, 2011 @ 3:53pm


    Just heard from Biographyws... same story it appears. Joan Lunden is not very happy... Does anyone know if they have ever done anything they promised, or is this an ethics (not legal) violation?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  29. identicon
    bill, Sep 27th, 2011 @ 10:54am

    The Journal

    please indicate any experience with the Journal on PBS

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  30. identicon
    chicklet, Oct 25th, 2011 @ 10:42am


    The videos never change, just the company name. If you've noticed.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  31. identicon
    sucker, Nov 1st, 2011 @ 5:14pm

    The Journal

    Linda Galen 561-353-9066 X197 contacted me and kept me on the phone for an hour getting me all excited about how I was going to have to scale my company up and stuff. Same old story...glad I found this article...not that I have that kind of money laying around.... but it sounded like it would be my big break and I'd be raking it in!

    Thank you for easing my mind on this.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  32. identicon
    Clif, Jan 7th, 2012 @ 10:22am

    Re: Apparently yet a new name for these guys

    I and my wife were hounded by these scam artists as well. Unfortunately we had already signed a contract with them before learning of this scam when they were called, World Progress Report. This was 2 years ago, we never paid them because we came upon hard times, we then learned that they were a scam so we just ignored them. A lawyer representing World View Productions just contacted us on their behalf about the contract and none payment. Theses guys stop at nothing. Any advice on what we can do to get them off our backs?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  33. identicon
    Carlson Yamamoto, Jan 10th, 2012 @ 7:28pm

    Re: Re: Apparently yet a new name for these guys

    Please contact me at I will provide you with the Attorney at PBS, Joan Lundens Staff, Florida Attorney General Office, and much more which should be able to assist you. I was also a victim recently of this scam and will do my best to help you and anyone that was victimized.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  34. identicon
    Gary Wendel, Apr 23rd, 2012 @ 7:59am

    You can add "American Milestones" to your list.
    Thanks for the heads up...

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  35. identicon
    Alinka, Jun 3rd, 2012 @ 6:32am

    I fell for it

    I wish I had found this article 2 years ago when I was approached by them. I did research "wpr scam" but found nothing so excited by the amazing exposure they were offering I paid the fee. I wonder how I can get my money back now.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  36. icon
    GEinLA (profile), Nov 15th, 2012 @ 1:49pm

    Latest name is Public Television Distributors, Inc

    And their newest face is Martin Sheen. They are calling the show In Focus, but it is the same old song and dance.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  37. icon
    GEinLA (profile), Nov 15th, 2012 @ 1:55pm


    They have also purchased a staggering number of domain names, started a Facebook and a Google +, and even made themselves a Wikipedia entry in an effort to appear legitimate, but be assured, In Focus with Martin Sheen is a SCAM. Repeat, InFocus with Martin Sheen is a scam! Not a report on a scam, and ACTUAL scam. Do not give money to Public Television Distributors, Inc and their show, they guarantee you nothing as return on a more than $20,000 investment.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  38. identicon
    healthwise, Sep 13th, 2013 @ 11:06pm

    Online Medicine Provider

    This site is very important and famous for online medicine shop.
    Healthwise Best UK online Male and Female Health Fitness Medicine
    Hair grow products,Slimming Products Special Offer.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

Add Your Comment

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here
Get Techdirt’s Daily Email
Use markdown for basic formatting. HTML is no longer supported.
  Save me a cookie
Follow Techdirt
Insider Shop - Show Your Support!

Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Essential Reading
Techdirt Deals
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Techdirt Insider Chat
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Recent Stories
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads


Email This

This feature is only available to registered users. Register or sign in to use it.