In the last few years of the aughts, while many of us privileged jerks were whining about how our iPhones kept dropping calls, and the national mobile network couldn’t handle the call volume generated by our data-slorping smartphones, a hidden army of workers were there for us, risking their lives so that we could download podcasts on the bus. These dudes (they’re all dudes) scale towers to fix and upgrade equipment, working for subcontractors and receiving relatively low pay of $10-$11 per hour. And some of them fall and die. [More]
America has gone all Brit-crazy with Downton Abbey, airing on PBS after its triumph in the UK, but perhaps the respected TV station has gone one step too far in trying to appease the clamor for all things Downton. PBS got in a bit of hot water with the show’s creators after they started selling a line of Downton Abbey jewelry on their site. [More]
In a break with long-standing tradition, PBS is going to start putting those sponsor announcements as briefer breaks within the shows themselves, instead of long stretches at the beginning and end, NYT reports. While the programming and mission remains non-commercial, the format is going to make the messages look more like, well, commercials. [More]
Frontline digs into the muck of BP’s corporate culture leading up to the biggest environmental disaster in American history in a new hard-hitting investigation. Through interviews with current and former employees and regulators and experts, Frontline probes the internal environment of wet greed and hot fear that spawned the oily monster ravaging the Gulf. Catch “The Spill” on Oct 26. Here’s a preview: [More]
In April, NPR reported on how Vision Media was calling up non-profits, promising them a Hugh Downs-anchored PBS special. All they would have to do is underwrite the production costs. Instead, those who signed up and paid up got a pile of poorly made ads on DVD, and no airtime. Now the firm seems to once again changed names and hosts. They’re going by “World Progress Report” and the ostensible anchor is former Good Morning America newscaster Joan Lunden. [More]
NPR just wiped the floor with Vision Media, the company that demands big bucks from non-profits and startups to pay for what they say will be a retired and beloved anchorman Hugh Downs-hosted public TV show about them. Invariably, NPR found, the shows never broadcast and the limited few that do air as paid commercials. Once again, it just goes to show, never do business with anyone from Boca Raton. [More]
The makers of the Hugh Downs video ripoff we wrote about are suing 800notes.com, a site that lets people anonymously post info about unsolicited calls they receive. Vision Media wants the posters’ identities revealed. That’s not uncommon, but what’s really rich is that they asked the judge for a gag order to stop 800notes lawyer, Paul Levy of Public Citizen, from posting the motions about the case online. Yes, they wanted to stop people from reposting public documents because doing so was “embarrassing” and “defamatory”. [More]
“Vision Media Television,” after getting exposed in a NY Times story as a ripoff production company, has changed its name to “GreatAmericaHD” and is back to its same tricks. The way it works is they call up non-profit organizations with an alluring pitch: a chance to be featured in a nationally-broadcast PBS show anchored by established broadcaster. In this case, Hugh Downs. What they don’t tell you is that you’ll have to front upwards of $20,000 in production costs, and the “program” they shoot will never see the light of day. [More]
Meet the canary in the coal mine that no one wanted to listen to: Brooksley Born. As head of the obscure Commodity Futures Trading Commission she sounded the warning in the late 90′s about the need for more transparency and regulation of the derivatives market, but a coalition of Beltway insiders, including the then rock star Alan Greenspan, formed against her to shut her up and shut her out. After the economic collapse, it’s time for them to eat crow. Learn more in tonight’s FRONTLINE presentation of “The Warning” on PBS at 9pm eastern, or watch online.
Tonight at 9 eastern Frontline’s new documentary “Inside The Meltdown” will debut on PBS and online. We’ve only seen the trailer, but the press release makes it sound like the scariest documentary in the history of the universe.
Don’t blog about how a shady production company tried to rip you off for $25,000 or they’ll sue you for $20 million. Vision Media Television is one of several different alleged ripoff artists who frequently target non-profit and socially-aware groups, promising a big TV special aired on PBS and/or other major networks showcasing the group. The show is supposedly anchored by ex-20/20 anchor Hugh Downs and will reach millions upon millions of people. The catch? The organization has to pay for the production costs up-front, which run into the tens of thousands of dollars…and the show never goes on TV.
PBS has joined forces with the New York Times to reveal, “The Secret History Of Credit Cards.” The show airs tonight at 9pm EST.