Play TV Canada Pwned: Going Off the Air March 26th

Previously on MikeBattista.com: I complained about a televised scam called Play TV Canada, then examined the nature of the fraud in more detail, and got a response from Global Television.

Global never responded to a follow-up letter highlighting the inadequacy of their justifications. However, every weekend, thousands of people have Googled their way to this blog, and hundreds have commented (especially here), collaborating to find a way to stop these unscrupulous people.

Well, good news! A commenter named Jeremy received the following letter:

“We are in receipt of your letter via the CBSC regarding Global Television’s broadcast of Play-TV Canada, February 20th 2010, on Global Toronto (CIII). In your letter, you have expressed concerns regarding this show suggesting it may be a scamming game show, with no logical answers to impossible questions.

Let me begin by saying that as responsible broadcasters, we are sensitive to the members of our viewing audience and we apologize if this program has offended you. I assure you that it is neither Global’s nor the producer’s intention to do so. As of March 2010, our contract with Play TV will end and the show will no longer air on Global Television.”

He added:

LOL PWN I GOT THEM TO REMOVE THE MOTHER F*****KING SHOW YAYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYY

March 26th they’re done.

I made them cancel their contract with them..
I’m a god!!!!!!!!!!!!

As of March 26th, Play TV Canada will no longer be airing. I’m sure this will be justified by falling ratings or other financial reasons. However, while I wouldn’t give this blog, or Jeremy, sole credit for Play TV’s downfall, I have no doubt that our collective complaining and bad publicity had an impact on the decision to end this contract.

A few people are worth singling out in this effort.

  • Jeremy, obviously, who complained and was kind enough to report back here.
  • Dave from CrimeBustersNow, who passion for exposing and taking down scams like this is personal and intense. We need more people like him around. See CBNow’s Post about Global and Play TV.
  • Lisa from Dublin, who brought information from the other, older front in this battle, Ireland. Over there, similar circumstances lead to Play TV’s downfall.

It looks like the next battle site is South Africa. There is a discussion forum for it here, and obviously people are welcome to continue using the comments here as a venue for discussion. Dave suggests further action here in Canada as well, such as trying to push for criminal charges. While I’m not sure about going that far, it is worth considering if you have the time and motivation.

Thanks to everyone who has followed and participated in this international effort. Score one for the good guys.

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Play TV Canada Complaint: Global’s Response

If you’ve been following this blog, you know that I have, for some reason, been battling against crappy television.

I sent the following to the Canadian Broadcast Standards Council a few weeks ago:

Hello. I have sent this concern to Global Television directly, but heard no response.

This “show” is a blatant scam, for several reasons. In sum, they make implicit promises (e.g., that it is possible to get through, or that the puzzles they present are solvable) that are not kept, which defrauds people of money. I do not believe that such an unethical practice should be encouraged by allowing it air time.

I have laid out many of the details of my concern in these blog posts:

Play TV Canada is a Scam
Play TV Canada Has No Legs

And I see that a CBSC decision has already been made about an identical scam: here (also here). But it it still on the air, so I’d like to lodge yet another complaint.

I hope there is something you can do about this. Thank you very much for your time.

My letter was forwarded to Canwest/Global (the company that airs, but does not produce, the program). I recently got a response. The letter can be viewed here.

I will compose a formal response soon. But a few things worth noting right away:
1) Staring at an unsolvable puzzle for 2 hours is not entertaining nor informative for any age, interest, or taste.
2) Having it be for ages 18+ is no excuse. It’s like, “but officer, the person I pickpocketed was 18! Should’ve known to be on the lookout for criminals.”
3) They did not address the implicit promises that are broken (e.g., the fake timer, the non-ringing phone, the random timing of getting on the air). Tiny text at the bottom does not excuse the lying host blabbering up top.
4) There is clearly not one and only one answer to each puzzle.

This last point is exemplified by last night’s “episode”:

Play TV Canada "Puzzle", December 19th 2009

The “correct” answer was 449.

Plugging in the same assumptions as the last bus/cat/leg puzzle does not get to the “correct” answer (even after accounting for, say, one girl having a leg off the bus, or one basket off the bus, etc.) The scam is in including assumptions that cannot possibly be uniquely derived from the question. Can anyone use their psychic powers to divine what arbitrary assumptions could lead to 449?

P.S. I found it rather funny when the host slipped up last night and said “euros” instead of dollars. It highlights that this cheaply produced crap is pumped in from halfway across the world just so Global can make a few bucks.

P.P.S. Here are some videos you might enjoy. 🙂

Play TV Canada Has No Legs

As a follow-up to my post Play TV Canada is a Scam, I watched it again last night. Once again, I couldn’t turn away; it’s like a train wreck. A train wreck with the conductor begging you for money while he wades through the victims.

One such victim was brave enough to speak up last night. What sounded like an older gentlemen said, through beeped out swearing, something like “you people sure are takin’ advantage of a lot of people, and I oughta-” before he got cut off. Good for you, angry old man. You’re fighting the good fight.

Here is one of last night’s “puzzles”:

I’ll write it out:

  • 4 girls are travelling on a bus
  • each of them have 3 baskets
  • in each basket there are 4 cats
  • each cat has 3 little kittens

HOW MANY LEGS ARE IN THE BUS?

Plastered on the bumper of the picture of the bus, for some reason, it says “1 cat 4 feet.”

The host constantly emphasized that this is a simple logic puzzle. And indeed, it does seem to be a straightforward math problem. Hey, let’s figure it out!

All we need to do is figure out how many cats there are, and how many humans there are, then count their legs. Let’s do cats first. There are 4 girls, with 3 baskets each, so there are 4*3 = 12 baskets. In each basket there are 4 cats, and each of them has 3 kittens, so each basket has 4*3 = 12 cats. With 12 baskets and 12 cats in each one, there are 12*12 = 144 cats.
[Edit: whoops… Heather on Facebook pointed out that I forgot to count the 4 cats in each basket. It should be 16 cats/kittens per basket.]

How about humans? Well, the question only said there are 4 girls travelling on the bus, so 4.

Each cat has 4 legs. 144 cats times 4 legs = 576 cat legs.
Each person has 2 legs. 4 people times 2 legs = 8 human legs.

Which brings us to a grand total of 584.

Someone called in with this answer. “No, I’m sorry, that’s not it,” said the host.

What? Well, we must have missed something. Hmm, ok they’re going by bus, maybe it’s reasonable to assume that there is a driver, even though the question doesn’t say that. He or she has two more legs, so that brings the total to 586.

Someone called this in. “Nooo, sorry.”

Maybe they’re counting the “legs” of each seat, and we’re supposed to use our psychic powers to determine how many seats this fictional bus has, then get some answer larger than 586. In any case, I couldn’t stand that crap any longer, so I shut it off.

Then, in the comments to my last post about this, Kathy (who actually managed to win some money from these people, but still doesn’t recommend calling), managed to wait until the end: “Well, of course no-one got the ‘right’ answer of 222 legs.”

what? Even if you add other ridiculous assumptions, the answer can’t be less than 586.

They don’t reveal how the answer was arrived at, so there is no way of verifying their solution. Even if there was (e.g., “lol, we meant kitten fetuses without fully developed legs”), it’s not the straightforward solution that they explicitly claim it is. PlayTV is a despicable scam. It’s not impossible to win, but the conditions of winning that they describe are completely different than the actual conditions of winning.

If you want to get involved in shutting Play TV (a.k.a. CallTV) down:

P.S. Please, debate and dispute my math. I’d love to see how anyone can get 222 out of that.

UPDATE: Gavin on Facebook made the suggestion that maybe the kittens aren’t actually in the bus (i.e., the cats “have” kittens in the sense that a person can “have kids” even if they’re not present at the time).

So ignoring the kittens:

4*3*4 cats * 4 legs = 192 cat legs.
4 girls + 1 driver * 2 legs = 10 human legs.
5 seats to sit in * 4 legs = 20 chair legs.

= 222 legs.

Which is the “right” answer. I guess that almost makes sense, except none of the weird assumptions are actually in the question, and what kind of bus only has 5 seats?

That’s right, the short bus. Which is probably what whoever wrote this quiz was riding.

PlayTV Canada (aka The Quiz Hour aka Money Wave aka Game Time aka Call TV aka Nameless TLN / CHCH Call-in Game Show aka L’Instant Gagnant) is a Scam

I see this “show” on sometimes when I flip on the TV before bed, and I can’t turn away. It’s the most boring thing you could think of: this guy stands there, with some sort of “puzzle” on the screen, and he says that time is running out for someone to call in, give the solution to the puzzle, and win $500. That’s it. He stands there, babbling, waiting for the phone to ring.

The thing is, it’s a blatant scam. These people use subtle and not-so-subtle psychological tricks to persuade people to dial a number that costs $2.00 to call. For example, there is constant time pressure. The guy will put a countdown on the screen until the end of the contest. When it runs out he’ll pretend he’s fighting the producers to extend the deadline. The whole time, his phone sits there, not ringing. So you feel like, wow, this seems fishy, but I gotta decide right now, nobody else is calling, and the puzzle is easy (see above), so I’m guaranteed $500!

Another variation on the scam is putting up a “puzzle” with the terms of the solution so vague that it’s pretty much guessing at random answers. Then, even if you get through, you’ll get it wrong. Last night they showed a picture, and the puzzle was “how many hearts are in the picture?” But there were hearts within hearts, partial hearts, hearts that were covered but could be inferred, hearts too small to see, etc. Depending on which assumptions you include or exclude, there is a very large number of reasonable answers. So you hear people getting through occasionally, but they’re all wrong.

The underlying scam is in fine text at the bottom: “calling in enters you into a random draw to give a guess on the air.” So they arbitrarily decide when to air someone’s guess. They no doubt time it for the maximum illusion that not many people are calling, so if you call, you will surely win. Meanwhile, thousands of people are calling in at $2.00 a call. At the end of the show, they finally allow someone to get through on the easy puzzle, give them $500, then these assholes walk away with a profit of tens of thousands of dollars.

Yet, even knowing it’s a scam, I can’t turn away. Hearing the poor (probably literally poor) confused people get on the air, falling for the greedy tricks, it’s like witnessing a crime. So bottom line: screw you, PlayTV Canada. And a bonus screw you to Global Television for allowing this morally bankrupt crap to air.


Update March 28 2011: Apparently the show is back on the air under the name “Game Time” (presumably so people can’t Google up all the bad press under the original name). Hopefully writing Game Time here will alleviate that a bit. Game Time. 🙂

Also, if you’re new to this blog, there are some other posts on the topic:

And be sure to check out the comments below. There is some good info about what people have been doing about this show.


Update April 24 2012: The show is still airing on TLN, but apparently now they have resorted to not even mentioning the name of the show, for maximum non-Googleability. If you needed proof that they are sketchy, there’s even more.

Also, Telemedia, the people behind this crap, took down the video in this post due to a “copyright violation.” It was likely legal for me to use it under fair use (it was only a minute, and provided as context for the commentary), but I really don’t feel like fighting it. I doubt they would’ve taken down a video with me saying nice things about them though. If you needed even more proof that they are sketchy, well, case closed.

FOR NOW.

Secondhand Transmission from a Distant World

Everyone is an alien to someone.

I’m in my late 20s. To anyone under the age of 18 today, I’m from a world they have never been to, and never will. A world we call the 1980s. It was inhabited by creatures with big curly hair that listened to cheesy pop music and grazed on Pixy Stix and Lik-M-Aid Fun Dip (aka sand you can eat). I grew up there; I have vivid memories of the world around me and the formative first experiences I had in it. But anyone under 18, they can only dream of such things.

See, this isn’t even the packaging I remember, but it’s all I could find on the internet. That old Lik-M-Aid packaging, it’s lost to time; it only exists in my memory of that alien world (and maybe partially rotted in an old box in someone’s basement).

Space aliens are separated from us by distance; we are separated from other people by time. But really, time is just the distance between two things that happen in the same place.

Which, of course, means that anyone older than me is an alien too. If a little grey man stepped out of a flying saucer that carried him from a planet I could never visit, I’d be treating him like a sort of god, asking him every question I could think of. Maybe our own greying human elders should be treated with the same respect and reverence.

This isn’t limited to time. The subjective experience of any one person can’t, by definition, be experienced by other people. To anyone else, it’s an alien sensation that can only be indirectly and imperfectly expressed. But even second-hand transmissions from the alien landscape of another person’s mind should be fascinating. Indeed, it’s what makes conversation with someone new so great. It’s what gives mass expressions of one’s consciousness – art, music, poetry, writing, whatever – their magic. SETI is cool ‘n everything, but Earth’s own idiosyncratic aliens are just as fascinating.

London Ontario Zombie Walk 2008

I am of the firm opinion that the zombie walk phenomenon is the best thing to ever happen to the world. I’m so glad that London has one every year now. I managed to make it out yesterday, albeit as a puny human and not a zombie. Here are some pictures.







I love how every zombie had some twist or detail that made them unique. The girl above has a pencil sticking out of her neck, and that guy held the severed hand in his mouth the entire time.







The makeup on the one above was amazing. Every time I see a girl dressed as a zombie, part of me falls deeply in love.

I’m not a photographer and my pictures aren’t the best. Check the London zombie walk’s official site and the event’s Facebook page for better professional-type pictures.

I love this one that someone else took:

And here’s a closeup of that amazing makeup:

I so wanna participate next year.

Mikey Likes It?

Growing up with the name Mike, and not being very picky about food, I often hear the phrases “give it to Mikey! He’ll eat anything!” and “Mikey likes it!”

The thing is, has anybody actually seen the Life Cereal commercial these phrases come from? Look:

Neither phrase is actually spoken in the commercial. Ok, people can be forgiven for saying “Mikey likes it” instead of “he likes it”, since the latter only makes sense in the context of the commercial. But as for “he will eat it, he likes everything”, it’s the complete opposite.

Listen carefully. The kid actually says “he won’t eat it. He hates everything.” In fact, that’s the whole damn point. If Mikey likes everything, then it’s no surprise that he likes Life Cereal too, so there’s no reason for the kids to go apeshit. But if he hates everything, yet likes Life, then it must be really good. Almost makes you want to go out and buy it, which is, you know, sorta the purpose of a commercial.

Since I really do like everything, it’s probably a good idea to feed this Mikey anything that you suspect is good, but want to make sure it’s not surprisingly nasty. Because then if I hate it, you can scream “he hates it! Hey Mikey!”, and avoid that product. Address available upon request for anyone who wants to send me free food. Get the original Mikey to eat some too, and you have a sort of double dissociation going on. Too bad he died from eating pop rocks and Coke *.

* [citation needed].

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See also: Luke, I am Your Father: 8 Memorable Movie Misquotes