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.
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”.
“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.
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.