Solicitation Alert: Close-up TV News / Close-up Talk Radio

Posted by Victoria Strauss for Writer Beware

Writer Beware has received reports that authors are receiving phone solicitations from an outfit called Close-up TV News, which describes itself as

…a premiere news magazine TV program spotlighting the
most successful businesses across America. Close-Up TV News has featured
hundreds of industry leaders on our shows.

We are a professional News Magazine Show, viewed by millions who
continue to be captivated by our intellectual, informative and
entertaining storytelling style.

In fact, Close-up TV News is pay-to-play (a fact not mentioned on its website). It produces faux news segments for a fee, which businesses can then use to promote themselves. Several of the testimonials from satisfied customers confirm this–for instance, this one, this one, and this one–as does this summary of a recent indictment against a pair of timeshare telemarketers, who allegedly used a Close-up TV News segment to further their scheme to defraud consumers.

Done in the format of a news segment for the fictional “Close Up TV
News,” the segment was hosted by an actor who played the host of the
“People’s Court.” In this fake news segment, the reporter described
Creative Vacation Solutions as “remarkably effective” in putting buyers
and sellers of timeshare units together. Johnson and Todd played the
role of a happy couple who owned a timeshare unit that was purportedly
sold by CVS.

(Close-up TV News was not charged in connection with the scam.)

From what I can determine, authors aren’t being solicited for the fake news segments, but for Close-up Talk Radio, Close-up TV News’s Blog Talk Radio channel. Authors are told that they are one of just three who’ve been chosen from a carefully-selected list of 30 writers, with the goal of finding a single author to receive huge promotion and marketing support, including several Close-up Talk Radio interviews, during the month of March. It’s promised that this marketing and promo will make them a best-seller.

The catch? Close-up claims it will “invest” $40,000 of its own resources in scripts for the interviews, email blasts, and other promotion…but the author must share the burden by kicking in $5,000. And authors must make up their minds fast! The promo happens in March, and Close-up needs an answer ASAP.

If the fee isn’t a tipoff, the supposed time pressure should be. Pay-to-play schemes don’t want you to make a considered decision; they want you to feel rushed, so you’ll be more likely to make an impulse decision.

Close-up is not unique. Many other pay-to-play media schemes are out there–for instance, Global Talk Radio, where guests pay to be interviewed on Internet radio, and The Balancing Act, the pay-to-play ($5,900) Lifetime TV show. But Close-up’s recent solicitations are certainly among the more deceptive I’ve heard about.

Writer beware. Even if they don’t try to fool you into buying, this sort of thing is not a good use of your money.

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