A group of broadcasting industry firms has criticised Ofcom's plans for high definition TV on the Freeview platform, warning they are built to fail and risk undermining the future of terrestrial TV. Ofcom has proposed that when the analogue switch-off completes in 2012, the spectrum should be sold off for new uses. It favours a …
So, let me get this straight...
Having sold everyone on buying existing STBs and TVs with DVB-T receivers, Ofcom's wonderful idea is that we should shitcan all that equipment so that they can shoehorn HD into a tiny area of spectrum and ensure that it's only receivable by equipment that doesn't actually exist yet (mind, neither does the standard it has to conform to...). Meanwhile they can announce a huge success when they auction off the analogue spectrum so that we end up with hundreds more shopping/gambling/auction/lifestyle/quiz channels in glorious SD... Who exactly appointed these refugees from natural selction?
Freeview is flawed anyway
As I see it, the government and OFCOM made the wrong choice over Freeview in the first place. They knew that they had a choice between a smallish number of high quality channels or a large number of lower quality channels. They went for the multiple channels showing dross option. They knew at the time that they should cater for the possibility of HD but they clearly haven't.
I think that they should cut the number of SD channels available, viz. Nuts TV and simliar shopping channel rubbish, and clear the airwaves ASAP for BBC, ITV, and CH4 in HD.
Stop bollocksing around and provide us with, say, half a dozen quality HD channels showing quality shows, even if they are repeats, and kick the crap into the long grass.
Given that ITV and Channel 4 channels regularly break up as they are overly multiplexed this is never going to work.
Dozens of HD channels?
..."dozens of HD channels from Sky, Virgin Media and future IPTV services."
Virgin? Dozens of HD channels? Last time I checked there was BBC HD, a few BBC programs for free, some pay per view 4 on-demand content and that's it. They don't even carry C4 HD. Even if Freeview only gets 4 HD channels, that would be four times the number available on cable.
Unfortunately it seems that the only current way of getting a reasonable number of HDTV channels is thru Sky, so if for whatever reason you can't/won't install a dish, tough luck.
Ofcom have only $$$ in mind - I bet they have already decided what to spend the monies from the auction on.
When I bought my HD ready TV with integrated DVB-T - I totally expected receive HD tv with it in the near future.Freeview is a success and has fought against the odds to get there.
murdoch must be loving this. I just hope that if terrestrial HDTV is a no no - then IPTV takes on sky. We badly need some competition.
Just as was expected, OFCOM totally miss the ball... again.
Lets ditch the dross that shouldn't be there in the first place (UK TV, Shopping, Quiz, Teletext, and all the encrypted channels) and get decent quality on the channels that are actually worth watching. 4 channels is nowhere near enough.
All this so some dickhead can send more crap that no-one wants to mobile phones!
Cart before horse
Yeah it sounds like another quango-induced balls-up (anyone remember the renumbering followed by the renumbering of London's phone systems?), but to be honest before flapping themselves over how many HD channels might be available, where, and how, howabout focusing on better content?
As touched upon above, who wants lots more shite trite muppet channels, even if they're in HD? If bandwidth is an issue why not can ITV and C4's hogging of channels just to punt repeats of their own shows (ITV2-4, E4/C4+1, etc)??
A (bad) solution in search of a problem
"The demand for multi-channel terrestrial HD from consumers is established, said DTG's director general Dermot Nolan" - no it's not - people buy HD capable TV because it is current gen equipment. There is very little on Freeview that would benefit from HD.
I agree with Jim Herd - if they cleared out all the crap there would be plenty of room for quality broadcasts. However, to paraphrase Mr Nolan it would appear that "the demand for multi-channel terrestrial crapTV from consumers is established" - at least that is what their current business model would suggest as that is what they are catering to.
It is what it is
Why not leave freeview alone, and let people willing to pay the premium for HD go with SKY or Cable services. I have freeview on 3 televisions at home (two of which on indoor aerials, and the third connected to the main aerial in the attic) and receive all the channels available with perfect clarity. I don't think there is a need to over complicate the issue with a new freeview service that not a lot of people really want or need.
Do we really need Eastenders in HD, it's bad enough catching a brief glimpse of Heather in SD as I quickly channel surf!
I bought an Tele-System MPEG4-HD satellite receiver (about £185), it seems to work ok on BBC-HD. But I never watch it. BBC1-4 nicely upscaled to 720P is as much quality as I need, oh and those irreverent swedes who don't host any IPR busting US TV shows, they're quite good for a 720P feed from, for example , House MD Series 4 episode 11, where he....CUT//Spoiler
I tried Sky HD but they don't publish program schedules here in Italy, for the Italian crashy Sky HD channel, (in English as language 2), I think I'll log onto Amazon and buy a few books instead...
Has Paris written any yet?, can she write??
I think they break up because you have poor signal quality, not because the bit rate is too low. It is possible to loose some multiplexes because of local conditions, and not all of the Mux's in your area will be broadcast with the same power.
On another note. I have Sky, and have also put freeview adapters on every TV in the house now, and I am horrified by this HD freeview proposal, and also by the possibility that Sky may start using their existing freeview bandwidth to carry incompatible transmission streams that you would need new equipment for (and probably have to pay Sky for).
The whole point of standards is that you can prepare for the future. I have only just got my parents to agree to have their aerial updated and DVB-T boxes procured ready for the digital switchover. If I say to them that they will have to buy another box in a few years time, especially if it is before analog switch off, they will not be amused.
The problem is that there was no forward thinking. If there was the possibillity of new kit being needed, there should have been a timetable so that people buying freeview boxes would know whether they could hold off. This would have affected early sales, but benefitted the viewers. It is really now too late to think of changing the current bandwidth.
I don't think that HD is really taking off, anyway. I bought SkyHD expecting there to be a vibrant set of channels available. We now have about 20 channels, several of which are pay-to-view film channels (SBO), and some of them are just upscaled normal channels (like Sky One HD), and some just arn't on air very long (like BBCHD). Looking at Discovery HD or the other documentry channels, there is really some stunning material around, but not very much.
Anyway, the choice of use of bandwidth on freeview is dictated by commercial pressures. Why should there not be two low-bandwidth shopping channels, rather than another retro drama channel. Let customers decide by ratings (and advertising revenue). I do agree about NutsTV, though. It must go.
Woohoo! HD polished turds
woohoo HD-TV repeats of topgear and friends, I cant wait [/sarcasm]
same VT loops but now in HD
dvb, dvb2, hd, bring back analog!
Hell analog was so good, maybe not for 90% of the people but if you were lucky enough to live within a few mile of emley moor then you got cracking reception with no noise at all, hell upstairs in the bedrooms the sets didn't even need aerials in!
not a single mpeg artifact insight, admittedly tv was not even upto 720p back then on the recorded stuff but when shows were live like dianas wedding and the london marathons etc, the pictures were so crisp and colourful it was HD !
Or have my glasses gone rose tinted....
I'll shut up and listen to my vinyl and open my keg7......
Given that compared to NTSC PAL is already high definition do we really need to see every pimple on some porn starlet's nether regions?
Waiting for Freesat
I have given up the idea of HD channels on freeview and am waiting for the BBC's freesat to be launched. After all, I need another box under my tv.
I have a satellite feed doing nothing as I cancelled Sky long ago.
We'll never get high-quality HD
It will always be more profitable for someone to use the bandwidth to pack in more shopping channels, more phone-ins, more live roulette. And our government (and opposition) are so in love with anything calling itself "business" that they will always give them what they want.
Meanwhile in Milton Keynes
The 'city of the future'(tm) is still waiting for regular old Freeview. At the moment, thanks to sitting in a transmitter black hole, we get analogue Beardie TV over cable.
It's hard to describe the quality of the Virgin operation in MK but try to imagine watching a Baird televisor through an old sock. But perhaps I'm being unfair - what other TV service allows you to watch the scrolly News 24 ticker *EVEN* when you're not watching News 24?
Is there a problem here
At times like this I just wonder what all the fuss is about. No equipment to upgrade, no license to buy, don't know what Nuts is, and who is Heather?
Excuse my ignorance on this but are current Freeview boxes/IDTV's able to pick up HD feeds already? Won't people need a new HD compatible box anyway?
I am blindly basing this question on the Sky model of having to fork out for a new box to get HD and line Mr Murdoch's pockets some more.
do we need HD I have a HD ready set the picture is quite good enough. as to greedy ofcom selling of broadcast spectrum to the highest mobile phone bidder really stinks. Digital is a step backwards I can see the transmitter from here still have it break up and i cant record one channel and watch another without buying another box crap. absolute c**P
Ok, ignoring the TV content quality question, for now.
Picture quality, what we have can and should in my opinion be a lot better than it is. MPEG2 is great, but the channels are seriously constrained on bits / sec. The result is on anything that moves, the quality is S*1T. The classic often quoted, the ball in a football match, the ball when kicked fast, can just diaspear, and that amazingly anoying background that smudges into small squares, as the camera pans.
Give us more than 1 1/2 Mbit/s on MPEG 2, please. Give us 5 Mbit/s per channel average, even statistically mux it across channels if you want, and we can up scale to an amazing picture most people would not believe.
More scare mongering by TV makers
Having already conned millions of people into buying HD Ready TV's, which firstly you can not get unless you buy and seperate decoder (they don't appear to tell people that part) and secondly it isn't true HD with only 720 lines, along comes the DTG saying that everything is doomed as people will no longer be taken in by the wonders of HD thus affecting their profits.
As people have commented if their is a true demand for HD then the broadcasters will come along and make room for HD by removing their +1 channels and offer the crap ones (Nuts, QVC etc..) money to get off freeview. Problem is no-one cares about watching Eastenders or Corrie in HD.
The Ofcom proposals intend to allow both exisitng and new equipment to operate for a number of years until eventually the old freeview boxes are replaced and more channels move to MPEG4. The broadcasters have already agreed that the Ofcom proposals are workable.
This has nothing to do with the DTG getting a new chairman and trying to big himself up and get his name on the Register.
HD to many people is 'bleeding edge'...
I don't fancy shelling out the hard-earned on an HD disk player until I'm *certain* which format will win. I have a good quality widescreen CRT TV and, frankly don't need a thinner screen. I'm not about to bin something that still works well. So I don't yet care enough about HD.
To me the whole HD phenomenon seems to be a way to extract extra money from the early-adopting suckers. I spend more on a *social life* than I do on television equipment and intend to continue doing so. I accept I'll need to upgrade my PVR when (if?) Freeview HD happens but as long as I continue to get a reasonable selection of channels at better-than-analogue quality, I'll be happy.
I think many other people are the same. As the switchover progresses, they'll get Freeview because they have to. As the transmitter power gets boosted afterwards, they'll find the picture quality superior to analogue. So it'll feel like an upgrade already...
There is still a lot of confusion about those HD Ready TVs which aren't; and issues with connectors, DRM and the resolutions: 720 v 1080i v 1080p.
There are literally millions of tech-disinterested types who will happily wait it all out and, like with Freeview, upgrade when there is no other alternative.
With you there, Steve. Who cares about TV anyway? as long as I can get Test Match Special and BBC7 via the web, what should I care?
Show the government The Money
I think everyone (MPs, public, regulators) agree there is a lot of rubbish on Freeview. However, the people running the channels are paying someone - WHO gets the money? I would hope some of it is directly or indirectly paid to the government for the spectrum and they (government) should price out the dross channels (or channels that are purely retail) and regulate others.
The current gen of Freeview boxes can't decode HD and they don't have HDMI in any case; I don't think the current low-def freeview will be switched off, the new HD broadcasts should be complementary and if that means less revenue from spectrum sale then so be it. In 15 years we'll regard non-HD in the same way we think of Black and White broadcasting now. It's OK to recommend investigation and planning based on new technology, however, it all needs validation.
It's be interesting to know what's happening viz. HD deployment in the rest of Europe and other countries (e.g. Japan, Korea, Hong Kong).
HD is worth it
To many people here are questioning the point of HD having never seen it properly. They also seem to be only thinking about how it would look on smaller TVs (byt his I mean below 40").... as you go up in TV size, you progressively need HD more and more. FOr example, when you are looking at 50"+ tvs, it is worth it. If you have a 7foot 4" HD projector (as I do) it is frankly a must. and remember that TVs are only getting bigger. If you don't plan now for HD, we will end up in the silly situation of SD wall sized TVs. Not pretty!
Saying we don't need HD is shortsighted (as much so as forgetting to account for HD when freeview was under design)....It's like saying we don't need an airplane, because we have a horse and it gets us to canterbury just fine. Try getting to New Zealand on a horse.
wars for oil
I can't quite believe people are leaving comments compaining about freeview quality !
THAT IS WHY THEY ARE TURNING THE ANALOGUE OFF
The analogue signal interferes with the digital, once the analogue gets switched off the digital transmitters can broadcast with more power giving the country much better coverage.
I have an HD set only because my beloved 9 year old CRT 28'" Tv died, and believe me true 720p looks amazing(I'm sure 1080 is amazing), especially Planet Earth HD.
The point is that flat panels are so cheap (and getting cheaper) that within 5 years there will be very few SD sets left so why will we still be getting SD broadcasts ?
OFCOM is coming up with this bull so it can sell more bandwidth and the government can finance more wars for oil, so whats new ?
Japan, Korea and Hong Kong are all parts of the world where technology rules. They will have very little concern about throwing out their current generation of TVs etc. As I understand it, the technophiles there rarely let a phone get a year old before replacing it. I'm sure the same is true about their TVs. Of course, they have heavy investment in making many of these consumer devices!
I'm sure that there are ordinary mortals as well, but that is how the media portray these countries.
The reason I don't use an LCD monitor is the same reason I don't want a HDTV tele. Quality.
A cheapo Bush CRT on standard freeview looks better than a new Panasonic LCD on cable. The only time you see pixelation on the CRT is when there's a signal issue. On the LCD you can see every damn pixel.
What is the point of LCD HDTV unless your set is the size of your living room wall and you are sitting 20 feet back from it?
If they bring in requirements for new equipment then they can stick the license fee where the sun doesn't shine and I'll stick with my mpg4 disk player and the internet.
Re Waiting for Freesat
So am I, but my patience is rapidly running out.
Various sources say it will launch next month, which Freesat hasn't disputed. But there's no advertising, hardware reviews etc.
There isn't the bandwidth or the geographical coverage with terrestrial, so arguing over a handful of terrestrial HD channels is not that important. Satellite is the only option with complete UK coverage. What Ofcom needs to do is to break the gigantic encryption lock-in granted to Murdoch by New Labour (anyone would think Murdoch helped them get elected). Everywhere else but UK, proprietary decryption must be offered via a standard CAM, implementable by any set-top box manufacturer. Not so for lucky Murdoch: free channels are locked to Sky proprietary encryption locked to Sky proprietary set top boxes locked to Sky proprietary EPG locked to Sky+ monopoly hard disk recording locked to Sky monopolised key content (football & Simpsons?), allowing extortionate ARPU and lack of competition.
HD sets flying off the shelfs?
HD panels may well be selling well. Its not much of an achievement, you can't buy anything else unless you want a 10" portable! Even then you have to accept the premise that a panel not matching ANY HD resolution (all those 768 line sets) is even really HD after rescaling everything thrown at it.
Stuff terrestial tv - 99% of it is crap
The best tv station I've ever seen is called P2P, it has all the latest tv shows from around the world and because you use your PC to view them (a tv-out card is a great addition) you don't have to be-on-time to catch beginning of the show and you can pause/rewind etc., plus you can access lots of old tv shows like M-M-M-Max Headroom and shows that never made it to your country on terrestial tv like MST3K etc.
Money money money money...
"Stop bollocksing around and provide us with, say, half a dozen quality HD channels showing quality shows, even if they are repeats, and kick the crap into the long grass."
So... who is going to pay for these quality shows? Filming in HD costs a fortune (updating sets, better/more make-up artists, cameras, edit suites to cater) and for what? Ad revenues will not go up, the TV licence going up would only cover the Beeb's transition. Right now it will seem like a massive cost with nil return to terrestrial broadcasters. The only reason Sky have pulled it off is because they can charge you money for it.
I for one look forward
to bidup.tv at 1080p.
DTV streams and quality
One of the problems with all of the current digital encoding methods is that the decoders guess a significant number of frames in the transmission stream, and this gets worse if frames are lost as a result of poor signal.
There are only complete frames transmitted every 10 or 15 frames (or longer on low bitrate channels), with deltas (differences between one frame and the next) transmitted in between. What is even more alarming is that some deltas effectivly say 'nothing new here, just interpolate from the last delta'. This is why with certain low persistance televisions (those with fast refresh rates) showing low bit rate channels, you get strange effects like someones facial features moving around on their face. This is masked by older CRT TV's with long persistance phosphors
What happens if you get a compromised bitstream (i.e. marginal signal) is that some of these deltas get lost. The reciever does the best it can, by interpolating (guessing) from the last frame and the last delta. This can lead to some very strange effects, such as parts of the picture apparantly floating in comparison to the picture as a whole. This is especially true if one of the frames lost was one of the completly new picture. The deltas arrive, and the decoder moves part of the picture which should have been the ball, for example, and what actually happens is that part of a player from a previous frame is moved instead. But as the picture is still digitally clear, the viewer does not see it as a signal quality issue. This is why the ball sometimes submerges.
The funniest is if a frame that corrisponds to a cut between scenes gets lost, and the deltas that should show a person moving (for example) get appplied to a plain background. This gives the illusion of a nearly invisible person, as the deltas show a vaguely person shaped part of the background moving independently of the rest.
The solution to this *REALLY IS* to check the signal strength and quality. Even low bitrate muxs rarely cause this sort of effect if they are being received properly.
What you do see with low bitrates is 'pixelization', where moving pictures look blocky. This is because areas of the picture which are similar are transmitted as a large rectangular block of solid or gradated colour to use less of the bandwidth, which should get refined in the following deltas. If there is not enough bandwidth, then the refinements never arrive before the next full frame, leading to the large areas becoming noticible. How bad this is is often down to the quality of the encoding hardware or software. This is sometimes where live transmissions look worse, because the hardware to do this in realtime is quite expensive.
Overnight downloading of HD programmes
Why not drop the +1 channels and clear up some overnight space to make room for a data channel whereby the HD content can be downloaded overnight onto a HD in the receiver box (as you'll need a new box regardless)? Not all programmes need to be in HD, and broadcasting upscaled HD is a complete waste of bandwidth (like the +1 channels which would also be redundant if all receivers had a small hard drive / flash memory).
Mandate to drop the +1 channels by the beginning of 2010.
Mandate that the SD picture quality on the main channels should meet specific quality standards.
Mandate some bandwidth to be used for overnight HD downloads to capable receivers. 720P or 1080i H.264 at 10mbps minimum.
Mandate spare bandwidth during the day for "major events", e.g., FA Cup Final, to be broadcast in HD. There's only ever one major event, so you only need one 10mbps channel to be available, and when it isn't being used it can be filled with 3 shopping channels in SD.
If bandwidth is Sooo short, why is it wasted with xxx+1 channels?
Just how many people do not have a tv recorder these days?
_MPEG4-AVC_ compression technology NOT _MPEG4_ compression technology
i expect far better copy from theREG team, its MPEG4-AVC/H.264/Part10 compression technology not MPEG4.
please try and educate the readers as to the right and full extension, or at least use the correct short hand as in the commonly used AVC monica.
the reason is simple MPeg4 caters for both part2 the old so called DivX/Xvid Non lossless Video codec, and the far newer and more advanced lossless capable AVC/H.264/part10 Video codec.
while i beleave the tryed and tested AVC (CoreAVC codec/x264 Encoder) is infact a good thing as might be the untested DVB-T2 and DVB-H2 (handheld equiv), its only good if the required bandwidth is allocated for its use, and stealing the current Anologue spectrum without returning the required bandwidth spectrum is wrong.
all in the name of profits, profit is fine as long as its use is secondary to keeping the UK TV in the world markets and innovation.
selling off all the airwaves and expecting the UK broadcasters to reduce their allocations by using new and improved kit is one thing, but not using the anologue turn off to force a major move to AVC/DVB-T2 within the UK is a madness if they expect the industry to move it that tech after turn off.
they should be subsidising these STBs and PC DVB-T2 USB cards and AVC codecs inthe UK market place TODAY and reminding the people that these STBS/DVB-T2 USB stick can ALSO play he old MPeg2 transport streams as well, not telling people to go and buy the old MPeg2 only kit.
hell , id also mandate that every single new STB/DVB-T2 USB TV stick have a FPGA chip inside ,so as to be able to then software update any changes in spec and codec in the near/long term DVB future, and also put all kit in the collective pot so as to cover the demise of a given company , that way its firmware code could still be upgraded even if they company didnt exist any more.
that way the end users are covered for the long term viability of their DVB-T2/AVC investmant the gov are expecting them to pay out and the UK sees a new solid base to grow from in the future and at a far greater speed than we are expected to see and also opening the door for more investment from the EU/global companys into the UK market place.
its only fair to give the UK TV broadcasters twice the equiv in digital spectrum for their current anologue spectrum, not rip it away and then halve it, hows that going to grow the YB investment in the UK or do HMGOV expect to outsource the remaining hi tech job creation to the east as we dont have any more industry werth funding today?.
I think that the only way the BBC freesat will ever be launched is on an Iranian/Chinese booster, too expensive via shuttle or ariane, and you know how much our government likes value for money....
SKY adivising the government?
Helpful Rupert giving advise to the government on how to screw over Free terrestrial? Last thing they need is free HD channels.
@scare mongering by TV cos
720p not true HD.. who are you, Mr Sony? most punters wont be able to tell the difference between a 720 and 1080p.
Maybe you should put the MPEG4 spec sheets down and go pick up an English language book. Your spelling and grammar are both horrible, which makes your argument hard to read and digest.
Least useful regulatory organisation EVER. "I regulate that Murdoch will own all your bases"
Short-term self-interest on the part of ofcom should be called out, the government department that makes a profit lives another day, gets nicer offices, doesn't get hassled about archaic concepts of fairness and competition; the government office that acts in the best interests of the people for whom the regulation is supposed to protect has no such security.
Money buys influence, Media buys obediance. Murdoch runs our country.
@AC up there ^
While you're at it:
Mandate to ensure that the picture doesn't fall off the screen every time someone up the road is having a fucking pizza delivered :-(
HDMI + Freeview
current *Freeview* boxes may not have "HDMI"
some **Freeplay** do have HDMI - admittedly on account that they are often HDD/DVD/Freeview combo boxes.
a quick check of the new ARGOS catg will demonstrate this - warning entering an argos store may wipe any magnetic media or cards on your body due to the pent up static generated by its customers nylon "Leisureware"
why moan about your aunt or granny not being able to afford to requip thier freeview boxes? - if you're reading this site yuo invariably can afford to spalsh out £20 on your dear old 'nan when as invariably tey will the prices of this boxes plummet to impluse buy levels as seen in ASDA,Sainsbutty, Argos etc (other resellers exist)
however these days why you would wnat to by Freeview is beyond me and the channel listing for Freesat appears to be worse.... the +1 channels are slightly less wasteful than the other junk but coud be solved by a HDD solution (DVD+/-R recorders seem to be useless) the real issue is the shopping channels and other drivel which sadly must appeal and work thus genrating revenue or they wouldnt be shown?
Gramma und Spullings?
Why is it that there is always some one on a forum that complains about spelling and grammer - get a life!
a) Forums and blogs are as disposable as a paper tissue these throw away times.
b) you are writting to a BBS, not writting a letter to the Editor of the Times
c) You must live in a rarified atmosphere if everything you read is written in clear and lucid and grammatically correct English?
d) Not eveyone who contributes to The Reg, is either located in the UK, or has English as their first or even second language!
e) the medium of the web engenders a more a naturalistic style akin to verbal communication not formal written essays - Do you speak as one writes?
f) get a life?
g) do you apply the same rigour to the rest of your life? bespokje suits, hand readered organic fre range food?, chauffered to work? Public School Education?
h) where you bullied as a child? Did the nann make you sit on the naughty step?
How does HD help?
Given that the output of television generally is total crap, how does HD help? Like people have said would it improve the already dismal freeview channels that are mostly repeats and/or channels time-shifted by an hour? Will 15 year old repeats of Whose Line is it Anyway or Friends be improved? Will I suddenly realise that a ten year old repeat of Top Gear isn't actually a load of old toss and is actually a high quality programme about motoring? Fix the content first, reinstate the idea of public service broadcasting and then we can think of how we can deliver it. There are fundamentally only four channels in the UK, everything else is either a derivative of, or leeches from.
Don't waste UHF on TV
Terrestrial TV is a horrific waste of spectrum that could be put to far better uses. The sooner everyone moves to satellite or wired distribution the better.
what the hell is ofcom for?
after reading this article, and then going to ofcoms website i have actually written both to ofcom's MD via <email@example.com> and made a complaint and followed that up with a complaint to my member of parliament glenda jackson, who should be one to get any about an issue like this
hopefully that will help to put the cat amongst the pigeons
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