BBC 2 viewers living in Whitehaven, Cumbria will lose the channel tomorrow unless they immediately switch to a digital TV signal, as analogue transmissions to the town are being switched off in the morning. The airwave cull doesn’t stop at just one channel though, because the town and the surrounding area of Copeland also loses …
A possible use of the spare capacity - in Wales at least
When this happens down 'ere in Cardiff, perhaps the capacity thus freed up can be used to transmit the "proper" versions of BBC1, BBC2 and ITV1 in addition to the Welsh versions which so often have national programmes on at different times - or not at all. (The "proper" Channel 4 is already available on Freeview in addition to the foreign-language counterpart.)
License fee refund?
Does this mean that the BBC will refund the license fees paid by those who have not upgraded to digital receivers at that time?
And still no freeview in much of Cambridgeshire
I have no doubt they will receive channel 5 on analogue the day analogue is switched off and have to wait another 15 years to get it on freeview
At almost exactly the same time as the first region in Britain switches off their analogue TV signal, Sweden completed their complete changeover to digital TV with the closure yesterday of the analogue signal in Skåne in southern Sweden. The transition from analogue to digital TV in Sweden began in September 2005 and was due to finish in February 2008, but with typical Swedish efficiency they completed the job early.
I wonder if the changeover in Britain will go as smoothly as in Sweden?
(Steve - From UK but currently residing in Sweden)
Patchy as hell reception
Most of the places I have lived in have ropey as hell freeview reception, what do our beloved overlords intend to do about the dire state of picture quality? It's not like you can watch a snowy version?
Poorer reception, freezes, blip sounds, & pixilation, probably needing us to fork out for a new aerial (as well as the set-top box), and reduced quality teletext. all forced on folk without even asking if they wanted it. And all because the government thinks it could use the existing analogue band. Unimpressed.
@A possible use of the spare capacity
According to the comms course I took last year Freeview and analogue use the same frequency band. Digital can be transmitted alongside analogue as it can cope with a lower Signal to Noise Ratio. This is partly why freeview reception is currently rubbish in many areas. When they switch over, they up the digital power and thus you get a much better/reliable signal. So there is no more 'capacity' freed up... though the digital system enables more data to be transferred over the band.
Hooray for Sweden
Frankly the less efficiently we do the British analogue switch-off the happier I'll be. If it didn't happen till 2089 that would be quite efficient enough.
Why are Dixons, Currys etc still full of analogue only TVs?
@ Chris Collins
The idea is that once the analogue channels are turned off, the digital multiplexes will have the power turned up so that reception (of the core channels anyway) is broadly similar to the current analogue coverage. The analogue and digital services couldn't both run side by side at full power with there being interference.
Population of Sweden: 9,142,817
Population of Britain: 60,587,300
Re: "Anaglogue TV's" - every TV I've ever bought has a scart socket. Freeview box = £30 and connects to a scart socket. I don't understand why people don't have either Sky or Virgin. Its far superior to anything Freeview can offer. You can get the whole lot (landline, mobile, broadband and TV for £40 /month. Bargain.
Well lets see...
..I am still convinced that Ferryside in Carmarthenshire in Wales switched to a total digital only service 18-24months ago, but someone prove me wrong and as for Sweden, well Finland switched as completely on the 1st of September this year. It may not have been done early but it was done on time and with little fuss!
Sorry to be positive, but...
...I prefer Freeview, I like the wider channel choice. Shame UKTV History has had its wings clipped though.
While the quality could be better, it's better than analogue where I live - the transmission format is DVD-like even if the compression is over-zealous. My Hauppauge STB has a USB port so I can even use my laptop as a video recorder. How speccy is that?
One of the realy neat tricks
that digital can manage is single frequency networks. Come the end of the analog signals you can, for example, broadcast the BBC multiplex on the same frequency across the whole country and get BETTER reception from doing this (in addition to the better reception that you can get by turning the transmitter power up from current levels).
It's this trick which will give OFCOM a bunch of UHF spectrum to flog off come 2012.
Analogue vs Digital
Has anyone noticed that Analogue signals are often still watchable with only 12% of the signal getting through, where as you need a minium of 24% signal to get anything more than a black screen on Digital...
Also it's great how Digital channels often freeze up for a few seconds when another channel is showing something intensive... and I would be willing to bet real money that 90% of those freeze-ups are caused by sports programs.
And of course... don't forget that Digital cuts off a lot of the infomation from the piture, in order to save space. Usually it's things that aren't noticable by the average person, but I often find that I can tell whether a signal is Digital or Analogue within a few seconds, because of this difference in available infomation.
Anywho... sorry fot eh rant, but this is one of my pet peeves - the general insistance that Digital is better, as spread by accountants who only see that more, lower-quality, channels can use the same bandwidth, thus upping profits...
But no HD
Can't say I'll miss the analogue signal however having bought new 'HD Ready' TV's with built in DTV receivers I'm a little annoyed to have to buy a HD Freeview box in order to watch HD content!
It's alright for you lot...
Here in Dublin, they are still *trialling* our version of Freeview. The 4 main Irish channels are available with a normal STB, but the rest are scrambled. Many manufacturers are still releasing Irish versions of sets with DVB-T removed - go figure. Plus we have to pay a licence fee for the national broadcaster, but they still have adverts on their channels. Imagine if you had to pay for ITV!
In my own apartment there is a monopoly run by a crowd called Smart(!) for triple play of broadband, tv, and phone. It's €75 a month (say 50 quid). The telly is woeful (it's IPTV) for both quality and choice of channels. Not everyone has the option of Sky - i.e., if you live in a flat with dishes banned.
I'd quite like Freeview - couldn't be any worse than I currently put up with.
What I want to know is, why did the government not mandate from the outset that all digital receivers must have the capability to accept a viewing card?
This way, they could enforce the TV licence properly without the need for poison-pen letters and bully-boy tactics which will be familiar to anyone who has ever spent a period of time not owning a TV set. No card, no picture. It would make it easier for parents to prevent their little s#!tbags from watching TV -- just take the card out, and give it back when they learn some manners.
There's also a raft of business opportunities. People who really didn't watch much TV could buy limited-hours viewing cards. Special commemorative viewing cards could be made for pay-per-view sporting events and the like.
In fact I can't think of a good reason not to require viewing cards -- unless you happen to earn a living harassing non-TV owners, while chav mothers keep popping out a brat every nine months to stick in front of their unlicensed [and probably stolen] widescreen plasma sets.
I live in Whitehaven
Given that i actually live there i'm in a better position to tell you that freeview is a load of cobblers.
As for sky/virgin - some people don't want to pay extra for their TV! We cannot get virgin in any form and any cut-price bundled package because the phone and internet are LLU is completely out of the question.
We're stuck with full price for the lot.
I suspect they won't bother increasing the digital signal power by saying it is 'good enough' and we require an 'atenna upgrade' - even though the one thats been on the roof for the last 30 years has been more than good enough to provide a rock solid perfect picture analog signal - i am willing to bet that digital won't 'just work' but will require lots of things to be done just to recieve our NORMAL tv!
We can't even get Channel 5 even though many years ago they send a block round to 're-tune' the VCR so that it wouldn't interfere as apparently we would be able to recieve it!
The problem is because Whitehaven is only fed from a relay type transmitter, the main transmitter at Caldbeck already has digital and i suspect we will be told we have to use that.
We won't even get all the freeview channels, not that any of them are any good since the entire spectrum is filled up with shopping channels and +1 channels!
+1 channels have their place but not in the bandwidth limited envrionment that is freeview - why won't these tv companies simply stream them online an hour later? What revenue will they lose if its the same as what was broadcast?
Cheap as chips
You can get a Freeview box in Asda now for something like £12.99. Anyone who hasn't switched yet either can't receive Freeview, or doesn't want it.
@ James Smith
"I don't understand why people don't have either Sky or Virgin."
Precisely BECAUSE it costs £40 a month ... and for what..?? Umpteen channels of pap.
I'll stick with my freeview thank you...
@James Smith: Sky Superior? You must be kidding...
At a pinch, all but about 30 of the Sky channels are a complete waste of time, space and bandwidth. And, of those 30, there might only be two or three at any one time that are broadcasting something worth watching and those will often be channels that are available on Freeview anyway.
Sky Sports? No thanks, not interested.
Sky Movies? Most of the movie channels spend most of their time just cycling through a small selection of flopped-catastrophically-at-the-cinema or made-for-TV dross.
And don't even get me started on the signal quality issues. Our Sky dish is several years old now and, of the handful of Sky channels that might sometimes be worth watching at all, three or four of them (including the Sky Movies Premier channels - i.e. the only ones where there might sometimes be a decent movie) suffer so badly from pixelation, audio dropouts, frame freezes and green flashes that they're not actually watchable anyway. Call an engineer out to look at it? 100 quid? No thanks.
In fact, the more I think about it, the more I need to contact Sky, cancel my subscription and tell them to stick their shite service back up their collective arse. Then when the analogue signals get turned off round our way, tell the TV licencing lot to do the same and spend my spare time doing more fun stuff.
swings and roundabouts
Yes I love the fact you get extra channels on freeview, but as I live in a dip, I had to fork out for an ariel that should be able to detect alien lifeforms and my frieview box has to be rebooted at least once a month as the picture freezes.
Oh and then for the tely in the kitchen I will have to get a freeview box for that, and then proberbly get a booster etc etc...
Should be cancelled....
The switchoff should be cancelled until Ofcom decide what's going to happen with the available bandwidth. If there is going to be a Freeview HD service, then all the boxes need replacing (again).
Still, nice to know our government can make a cockup of just about anything they turn their hand to!
transmitter power will increase...
I see no figures of how much(if anyone knows, speak up!), but that 24% signal you need now will most likely go down to 10% or less....
Once the analogue signal is 'not available' you will be able to use the 'goods & sevices act' to sue companies selling devices that are not capable for the job... :)
you pays yer money, and takes yer choice... and if you dont, you deserve what you get... hope you like peanuts....
may be worth having a look at your contract... Cable would go in, whithout too much disturbance to your landlord??
this is a big no no
I've had experience of all systems that supposedly supply folk with DTV and all the lot have provided me with a blank screen or a severely degraded picture and or sound. As other posters have mentioned all the big stores are still selling analogue tuner based stuff. This will result in huge piles of old videos/TV's/game consoles/DVD players being dumped in car parks. As for recycling facilities, remember the fridge fiasco a couple of years back?
I don't belive for one minute that folk will take their old stuff to Tesco (mine is too far away to lug obsolete stuff there on foot). It goes off here in 2009, but as usual in the people's republic of London it goes off in 2012 just as the Olympics come to us (if they're ready in time!) so this may add to the fun of no picture.
What annoys me is that I have looked after my anologue stuff and it has served me well and is still in good working order. Why should I part with £X,000 to buy new stuff that might not even work??? Get it working first.
You don't need to change your TV
Some people are missing something here.
You don't need to change your TV, just get a set top box and connect it to your scart socket.
"huge piles of old videos/TV's/game consoles/DVD players"??? - definately not... they will be up for sale on ebay!!! and if you have not already got rid of your old VCR by now....
You also seem to forget that ALL the above DO NOT rely ONLY on a tuner - they have a scart or phono in/out.. and most DVDplayers do not even have a tuner!! Even if your antique TV only has an aerial input, you can buy a scart modulator, or even a freeview box with aerial out.. see more info here...
SKYdigital is only £17 a month! - see my comment about 'you get what you PAY for'... you can get a SKY+ recorder box at any good sat shop, even on ebay!! or SKY does them for £179... (NO extra rental charge..)
What happens to portable TVs, like the 5" black-and-white 12-volt type that you might have in a car or caravan? Is there a 12-volt Freeview box that works off a cheap set-top aerial? No.
More stuff rendered useless, fit for landfill. However, I suppose it'll mean more people listening to the radio, reading books or magazines or talking to each other instead.
simple link for sky..
simple link for sky..
FREE (39 channels!) if you get the phone service... :-)
£11.50 for 85 channels...
@fon: The wonders of Sky TV
In the best tradition of the Houses of Parliament:
"I refer the honourable gentlemen to the reply that I (and several others) gave to that question earlier."
Sky digital is, indeed, only £17 a month if you just go for the basic package. However, the utter drivel that they broadcast on most of the channels isn't even worth that much. And, unless you happen to be lucky enough to live in some idyllic little sheltered spot with perfect line-of-sight and supernaturally mild weather, the signal quality still degrades faster than your satellite dish can rust.
It's all crap basically. Typical Government numptyness of the "Hey look - it ain't broke - let's fix it anyway!" variety. ("Ooh - and it might even allow us to flog off some frequency bands later. Quick - everyone make sure you've got at least one media company directorship in the register of members' interests. Ker-ching!")
Sometimes, cynicism is the only sane response...
I think you will find the same 'utter drivel' on freeview as well....
I would like to see where else you would get all your sports, movies, etc when the pubs are shut!!!
- and you are taking utter drivel about getting a sat signal.. the 'line of sight' is usually only about 20 to 30 degrees from 'straight up'... and a good installer will know how to get a good signal in almost ANY location.. even for a Motorhome!!! yes, you just need to ask your local sat shop... auto-leveling dishes for boats, lowvoltage sets, etc...
and before the 'mania' sets in, how many people here *actually* live in cumbria?? If you do not, you have another *year* to get ready... further south, 2 , 3, or 5 years!!!
I would like to bet, that when it becomes *necessary* to go digital, the price of everything will drop like a stone.... If there is a large demand for it, it will be easier for prices to go down....
"..I am still convinced that Ferryside in Carmarthenshire in Wales switched to a total digital only service 18-24months ago, but someone prove me wrong..."
The analogue services were switched off in Ferryside on 30 March 2005, with the exception of BBC Two Wales. This remained because locals were unhappy that they would lose programmes seen in the rest of the UK that were not available on the BBC Two Wales digital service, "BBC 2W".
Has also switched over. I'm mostly happy about it, since then I stopped watching TV entirely. I used to have a PCI tuner card in my PC (20€) that worked fine with just about any antenna or cable, netting me some 35 channels, of which 3 had something worth watching at any given time. If the signal went to shite, I could still watch it, a bit of snow is nothing for the built-in signal processing equipment between my ears. After the switchover, I had to buy a DVB receiver (35€), and now I can't get more than 10 channels on the house antenna or 25 if I stick an aerial out my living room window (the one facing the broadcast tower - my den is on the other side of the house, so forget watching anything there), and even then it's plagued with random freezes and all the other signs of signal loss.
So after a few months of stressing about it, I stopped watching TV - now I pull all my favorite shows from torrent, in perfect quality, without commercials, and watch them at my leisure whenever I want to.
"I don't understand why people don't have either Sky or Virgin. Its far superior to anything Freeview can offer."
Riiiiiight. Umpteen quid a month to make Beardy Branson or Rupert Bloody Murdoch even richer. There's enough rubbish available on Freeview to keep most sofa spuds happy without wanting to fork out actual money for more. Of it.
OK, so my picture falls off the screen every time a moped goes past Larrington Towers, but that's only because my loft-mounted one was rendered impotent in a bizarre gardening accident.
Whats all this rubbish about Sky and poor signals? I've had it for seven years in a built up urban area with no problems.
What's All The Fuss?
Moan Moan Moan Moan Moan
Come on people, I think a lot of you are missing the point and being intentionally obtrusive.
I can answer a number of questions/fears raised (scaremongered) here.
First, regards the signal strength and reception - have a look at the link to follow - you'll see that current output for digital is miniscule - as digital becomes de-facto it will become stronger:
I've seen comments about 'my portable tv wont work with freeview, blah blah blah' - If your TV can take an external aerial, you can plug a freeview box in between it and the aerial and tune your TV to it in much the same way you would a VCR.
Other comments about 'we'll all need new boxes again when it's freeview HD TV' are as crazy. There ARE other choices. I have Sky TV and there are HD channels available. I can't view them but haven't been forced to buy a new TV - I choose to not view them!
That brings me on to the next thing - the 'it's only £17 a month for Sky/Virgin' crowd. YES, but some people would prefer to NOT have to pay for their TV an a monthly paid subscription - that's the beatuty of FREEview.
I mean, come one people. This is a very disappointing read. I thought subscribers to the Register embrace the benefits of improved technology - not mither about it and comment about how 'back in the old days of black and white TV and 3 channels things were much better'. The government isn't forcing you to not watch TV but is leveraging the power of new technologies. A one off fee of £15 for a set top box is well within most peoples grasp - and for those that it isn't prices will no doubt continue to fall and I believe there are subsidies for certain groups in any case.
If you have an old TV that is unable to accept a freeview box being plugged in, then it's probably a fair few years old and obsolete - and is probably not unreasonable to expect such a small minority of people to have to change to benefit the majority. One of the things I hate about the UK is the constant wrapping up in cotton wool of the minorities that prevent progress to benefit the majorities. In this instance, the government have got it right - hell, they even give us 5 years to ready ourselves - and then what do people do - moan that other countries are already there. You can't have it both way people................
@fon: Drivel on Sky
Yes, I know that the same drivel is on Freeview as on Sky. Except that on Freeview, you don't have to fork over £17+ a month for it. And, fortunately, the channels on Sky that tend to have passably decent content also happen to be the ones that are available on Freeview.
Assuming, of course, that you can get decent Freeview reception. Although I'm not actually in Cumbria, I am "oop North" and out in the sticks (and do still have an active Sky subscription for work-related purposes), so I haven't tried the wonders of Freeview yet. Luckily for me, my neck of the woods won't be switching until 2012 though.
Sports coverage? Not even in the least bit interested. Couldn't care less if every sports venue in the world and every sporting celebrity spontaneously vanished tomorrow morning.
Movies? For the cost of a Sky subscription that gives you all the movie channels, you can probably buy at least 3, if not 4, new-release DVDs every month. Given that I can't recall any time when I've had an active Sky subscription and there were even 3 or 4 movies that were worth watching in any given month, the DVD route makes more sense.
And as for the satellite signal? Well, our dish does actually have a pretty open view of the sky (straight over open fields) and is reasonably well-aligned. But there are still a few channels that have lousy reception unless the weather is just right (not too hot, not too cold, not too wet, not too windy - it's like bloody Goldilocks and the bears' porridge!)
So I'm afraid it's still a resounding "Tish!" and "P'shaw!" to the whole thing from me.
For all those banging on about not paying £17 / month for sky you can for a one off payment get tv through a dish without having to pay a monthly subcription.
I live in Otley where analogue tv reception is average at best , we don't even get 5 and cable never made it out here freesat is what i use and its great!
what about recorders?
The news has promoted the fact that you need a little box add on for your TV and the old get (only) one free, however no one has raised the issue of the fact that you also need one for the PVR unless you want to record the channel you are watching.
In our area we will not be able to receive Freeview until the analogue signal is turned off so there is no point in buying digital only equipment until then, but with only 15 months to go there is also no point in buying analogue only devices, yet the premium cost for the hybrids is way too high.
meanwhile do the digital based recorders actually work? My VCR or DVR can be programmed to do what I want however my SKY decoder can only be told to switch to certain programs. When i look at the recording later, the Sky turns on or over anything from a minute early, buggered if you need to enter the early passkey anyway, to 15 minutes later when you get a nice message on the scrren saying something like 8:15 Warning This program has already started. Chocolate teapot eh?
Looking forward to the next severe weather problem when we can all sit looking at our blank TV screens hoping for an update!
I don't remember seeing the option to have all my high tech working equipment declared obsolete and being forced to go back to the stone age and Digital as part of an election manifesto either?
RE: What's All The Fuss?
I'm glad someone summed it up for the hard of reading and mentality challenged.
Also in addition to the HD arguement, there's hardly any true HD transmissions being made. Any of the HD nature channels might be close with content filmed on HD cameras and broadcast with a HD signal, sport really is hit and miss, some footie games are filmed in SD and then upscaled for HD, so not true HD. Anything else will be old SD content upscaled, just as if you'd bought a HD TV with an upscaler in which will be trying to convert any SD signal into HD quality.
So with that and freeview (which has already trialled HD digital signal in London, but lets walk before we can run, eh), you don't need to worry about upgrading your kit for at least 2yrs after the final switch over in 2012 and that's being optimistic.
So remember digital is crap at the moment because they have intentionally made it crap at the moment, all your current kit will still work and will continue to do so even after switch over. Your HD content, you'll never know if it's true HD unless you buy a Blu-ray or HD-DVD movie, that's what you get for being an early adopter cause that's where HD is for consumers at the moment, any sales person tells you anything different, then your obviously standing in a DSG Store (e.g. Dixons, Currys, etc).
freesat is poor. very very poor. costs £150, we got given a dish, a skybox and a card from a friend (thank the Lord, as I'd never pay for it!) claims a lot more channels, but you have to sift to find them amongst 800+ sky channels that are locked (there is no quick way to jump to the free channels, just search) and although it says 96 channels, most are poor, and it doesn't even have the few good freeview channels, such as E4 etc.
DO NOT BUY IT!
There's also the BBC/ITV Freesat service due next March
Although as it's been postponed twice so far with no good reason given, I'm not holding my breath.
It will allow HD, so I hope the set top boxes will be HD compatible from the start.
Officially I can't get Freeview until 2012.
Digital could be so much better
As someone who works in broadcast engineering, I have seen Digital TV come along with great dissapointment. For a start the whole point of digital signals is that they should maintian their levels and not become distorted with each processing stage. This of course only applies if you keep them in the same format as you work with them. The cost of distribution bandwidth is/was high and so it was cheapest to compress a 270Mbit signal down to around 8Mbit, decompress it - work with it in analogue - redigitise it and then recompress it again to send it to the transmitter. Apparently in tests most viewers thought it looked better..(maybe they were drugged?)
What really saddens me is that in the push to go digital, it was all sold on MORE CHANNELS=BETTER . This is so untrue it hurts. The best TV IMO was around when we had just 4 main terrestrial channels. People claim it is all about choice and it reminds me of an old Fry and Laurie sketch where one was a waiter in a resturant and the other the cusotmer who was complaining he had not cutlery. The waiter responds by bringing him piles of plastic knives and forks and then says something like - 'there you have choice'.
I would prefer a narrower choice of a few good channels than an massive range of pap. One of my main choices these days is 'off;
I wish that digital switchover had been HD-only and we had ended up with 8-10 good HD channels on Freeview and (no SD ones) rather than the 30 or so rather mediocre ones. There is only so much talent to go round.
1st to get switched off
I reckon the reason poor old Whitehaven has gone digital 1st is the same reason it got Sellafield as a neighbor.Its far enough away from London to minimise the blast. When did anywhere in the North get anything 1st. HD TV Trials NO London got them. Funny is'nt it !. Anyway lets look at it truthfully Whitehaven is the 1st to "GET SWITCHED OFF" not on
Sky Plus and PINs
Sky Plus will happily record PIN-protected content -- you'll only be asked for your PIN at playback.
Now, does anyone know how to make Sky Plus display the time in VCR notation (e.g. 20:30 rather than 8:30pm)? This is driving me mad.
I've been with Freeview since the days of ONDigital, and in fact still use an OnDigital set-top box for my oldest spare-room telly.
Out here in a rural area way beyond the reach of cable, satellite was the only alternative - even ADSL struggles to beat 1MB here - and I don't like making Murdoch richer.
But you know what? Spend 40 quid on having a decent aerial fitted (by a pro who aligns it right) and the picture goes from pants to pristine. Maybe after all this time and loads of warning, people should grin and bear that cost - which is I believe about the same as an unsubsidised dish would cost to be installed.
re: It's alright for you lot...
"Imagine you had to pay for ITV!"
Imagine you received TV licence funded broadcasts without paying a licence fee. I recall an article where it reckons viewers in ROI can still get the tv signals from Blighty but don't have to pay the licence fee for it. Swings and roundabouts mate! Though I don't think I'd see getting "Strictly Come Dancing" and the likes for free as a benefit... :-)
none of it matters anyway
..we're all doomed:
Digital switchover will finish in 2012, just in time for the world to end...
....oh, that and for the UK to lose resoundingly at the olympics..... mind, you maybe the end of the world is what the government has been planning for. Why else would so many government backed projects conclude in 2012?
In case you're not convinced, apparently an asteroid (99942 Apophis) will collide with earth:
The book The Orion Prophecy claims that the Earth's magnetic field will reverse.
And to top it all off, according to Olduvai Theory, we're all going to run out of oil when an epidemic of permanent blackouts spreads worldwide, i.e. first there are waves of brownouts and temporary blackouts, then finally the electric power networks themselves expire.
....and you think that the analogue switch off is big news. Pah!
Just because the Mayan calendar only went up to 2012, doesn't mean they necessarily thought the world would end then!
More than likely, they simply figured that 2013 would be essentially the same as a year they'd already charted and so didn't bother to repeat themselves.
It's not uncommon, but neither is it safe, to assume that a culture which has apparently failed to grasp one concept which you regard as self-evident has necessarily failed to grasp another one which you regard as taking a bit more work to understand.
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