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One variant, targeted at children too young to dial a number, enticed children to hold the phone up to the television set while the DTMF tones of the number were played.
This type of scam was especially popular in the late '80s to early '90s in the United States before tougher regulations on the 900 number business forced many of these businesses to close.
the 900 area code was completely restructured by AT&T to be the premium-rate special area code which it remains today.
At that time, many evening news agencies conducted "pulse polls" for $.50 per call charges and displayed results on television.
Unlike a normal call, part of the call charge is paid to the service provider, thus enabling businesses to be funded via the calls.