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back to article Wi-Fi Beeb viewing may break law

Users of the BBC's trial of TV-over-Wi-Fi networks will break the law if they plug in their mobile phones in locations not covered by a television licence, the TV Licensing Authority has warned. The BBC has begun a beta trial of live television over Wi-Fi networks. The owners of phones with Wi-Fi connections can go online and …

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Stuff em

I think there's plenty of people who are sick enough of "The unique way the BBC is funded" as it is without the TLA pursuing people who might watch the BBC on their iPhone or whatever. It is absolutely reprehensible that someone can actually be sent to prison for not paying a forced subscription for a set of television channels that they might not even watch.

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Alert

Television license?

And I thought Microsoft was bad! The BBC has them all beat!

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Flame

Isn't it about time..

Why should we be the only country in the world to pay a tax to watch TV and support a single TV company as a result? One which makes money be reselling a host of things paid for by this tax, whilst its competitors either have to charge a subscription or host adverts, or both?

Time to stop funding Auntie and force it to play by the same rules as everyone else. Or will axing the TV Licensing agency upset to many civil servants?

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TVL - not to be trusted

These are the same folks who forced a local small business to fork out 400UKP per annum simply because company laptops had DVB tuners onboard.

TVL guidelines state that portable self powered devices are exempt but insisted that these laptops require *individial* TV licences and threatened court action unless the business forked out.

TVL will bend the law going as far as assault to get thier money.

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Stop

Time for the law to change

Any one else thing that the BBC should have their licensing law ditched. Or changed so that it doesn't matter where you are or what you are plugged in to. If you have a license you get to watch the content.

If the AA can implement a "your the member not the car" surely the beeb can do "your the license payer, not the household".

Why are the bbc pratting around wasting license payers money on this sort of a service... WE WANT QUALITY TV not more platforms to watch the existing crap on.

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If only it worked...

I tried this service with my 3G iPhone, but only got the response, "Your device appears to be unable to support this service".

I contacted the BBC to find out why, and received this reply:

"Unfortunately, we can't currently make live television or radio available for the Apple iPhone or iPod Touch as they don't support streaming of live channels."

If this is the case, why am I able to listen to a range of live radio programs on the iPhone from other sources? Why is it that the one service I directly pay for - through licensing fees - can't deliver what others are serving up for free?

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Happy

Ha ha

...crank-up the licensing vans FUD-O-Meter to 11 :~P

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Hmmmmm

Now what if you were at an address wthout a TV licence, you were watching the streams on your mobile but were running out of juice so plugged your mobile into your laptop to charge it? Is it legal to do this provided the laptop is not plugged into the mains?

Such a grey area really. Also, what if that "mobile device" being used at home to view telly via wifi took you to over the 4 TV allowance. Illegal again or only until you plug it into the mains?

What about if your neighbour had managed to hijack your wifi and watched BBC over wifi but they didn't have a licence? Are they legal?

I know chances of prosecution are pretty low, how they are ever going to catch someone on any wifi network and prove they had their mobile plugged in but the site had no valid licence is beyond me!

To be honest, BBC's programs are so shite these days that if I am taking a dump, I certainly won't want to be watching BBC over wifi on my mobile. I'd rather play Snake thanks (the phone game, not my penis thank you!)

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Hmm...let me guess...

They're going to suggest a licence per handset model perhaps?

If I've read the story correctly, then I personally would get fined if I plug in my smartphone into a premises that didn't have a licence?! So...what am I meant to do? Buy a licence for every un-licenced place I walk into?

A licence per person model wouldn't work either as you'd need 2.4 if you and your family wanted to watch TV of an evening.

So..best way to try and claw even more money out of us is for the BBC to offer a licence per handset model at the very reasonable price of £5 per month or something...or risk a fine of £1,000 for plugging in your phone.

I wish I could fine people £1,000 if they didn't buy my product but instead decided to go with one of the many free alternatives out there....

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Flame

Licence covers hand held TVs away from home

Absolute tosh. The TV licence clearly states that you can watch TV away from home using a TV that has its own batteries contained within the device. This exemption has been in place since the Casio hand-held TVs of the late 70s / early 80s.

You show me a mobile phone that doesn't contain its own batteries within its case, and I'll show you an aging pre-GSM car-phone that can't receive video anyway.

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Coat

Where the mains is eh?

This gives me an idea! A true cunning plan as Baldrick would put it. I can't tell you what it is, for you'll just copy me...

Coat please. Mine's the one with the 300 mile extension cable in the pocket...

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Joke

This is getting beyond a joke.

Personal subscriptions, please. Ones that can use wherever we are. The sort we tap into devices to authenticate with the BBC. Yes, the system will be abused, but so is the current piss poor system. At least people will be able to use the licence they paid for wherever they want to, including outside the UK. And the BBC will be able to sell subscriptions to non-Brits, too.

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Doesnt seem to support

too many phones at the moment.

Also if you REQUIRE a TV licence to view it do the BBC propose to put some kind of security on it like, oh I dont know, maybe requiring you to enter your TV licence number (it's all in the database!) before you connect to the streams?

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Paris Hilton

This doesn't add up

"The TV Licensing Authority said that 98 per cent of UK households have televisions, and that the licence evasion rate is five per cent."

Does that mean that 98% of people have a TV license and 5% don't?

Or does it mean that 98% of people now have a TV license but 5% of those had to be taken to court for not having a license? That seems a trifle high.

WTF?

Paris. Just because.

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Black Helicopters

Eh?

"The TV Licensing Authority said that 98 per cent of UK households have televisions, and that the licence evasion rate is five per cent."

Evasion? I assume they mean 5 per cent of the 98 per cent are 'evading' licensing. How do they work that out? How do they know? If they 'know' then surely they'd be following up their obnoxious, threatening "we know where you live" letters, in which they threaten to send the boys round because they just know that there MUST be a TV in the house and 'we'll come in and have a little look round to make sure you haven't got one'.

Guilty until proven innocent.

If they come round my place they'll get a 'good look round' mark my words...

Bunch of twunts.

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Dan
Stop

Oh please...

This is getting ridiculous. The idea that I could be fined for charging my mobile while round at a friend's home, just because they don't watch TV, is absurd.

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Stop

IT's about bloody time...

....that they scrapped the licence and paid the beeb out of general taxation. Le't s face it, 99.9% of us watch TV, so stuff the 0.1% who don't.

It would save millions on actually having to enforce and collect licence fees. No...... wait...... Ahh that's why the bastards continue with this pile of pants scheme - they're doubtless making more on fining people that from the licence themselves

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Alert

Beginning of the end

And this kind of insanity is why the era of the TV licence is drawing to a close. Things are getting too adhoc and flexible, and when combined with the rise of subscription TV - well its only a matter of time before its scrapped.

If I was the BBC I'd be looking at how I could produce ad-free TV via low priced subscription. Maybe they shouldn't have made all those Freeview boxes smartcard less?

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Unhappy

Wow.

Just wow. It's times like this I'm glad I don't live in the UK. You have a license, but you're breaking the law if you plug your phone in to power outside of your house and watch a BBC provided service on it. Seriously, wtf is that? You pay your monies, but you can't watch the shows - and not only that, it's a CRIMINAL offense?

Just wow.

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Scrap the TV Licence

It's past time the TV Licence was abolished.

There's an interesting anti-licence site here:

http://www.tvlicensing.biz/

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It's not just us

Every country has a state run TV channel don't they?

So the people in those countries must pay for it. The difference is that here you can choose not to.

I think it's fair to say that the money that the BBC gets paid benefits the country more than the cost in straight taxes, even if you don't watch telly.

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Abolish the licence

What are they afraid of? The BBC love to tell us that BBC is fantastic television. In which case people will pay for it, won't they? Or is the BBC actually a load of rubbish? Does it live in cloud-cuckoo bbcland, where everything is peachy?

I watch the television about once a month now, and that's only when I really can't find anything else to do. Soon I will get rid of my TV and save myself the licence fee. No doubt some jack-booted licence enforcers will knock at my door and I will have to prove I don't have a TV.

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Anonymous Coward

Here's a novel idea...

You could throw the television out of the window and do something other than let your life drift by in the prozac glow of your 50" idiot box.

Ha, only joking: stay at home, out of my way.

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Stop

You ALL need to realise.......

......that without paying the TV licence; the BBC would not be able to make quality programmes as they are doing year in year out! (of course I'm not including Eastenders in this assessment). Lets not loose Doctor Who just because the internet KIDZ (Yes I mean kids who don't understand the economics of TV) want to STEEL from us ALL!!!!!

Come on people lets support quality programming.....if you don't then it won't survive and we'll all be SO bored!!

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Re: Isn't it about time..

You certainly aren't "the only country in the world to pay a tax to watch TV and support a single TV company as a result".

In France it's called the Redevance Audiovisuelle, and it funds France Télévisions. Astonishingly, the buggers carry advertising as well! And it really is a tax, collected by the tax office - they assume you have a telly and add it to your local tax bill unless/until you can prove otherwise.

Wikipedia lists 35 countries with TV licence regimes.

-A.

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Stop

BBC proliferation

I don't think that the BBC should be branching out into internet etc with my license money. They are distorting the market (look at ITV!) and ignoring the core purpose which is to produce GOOD TV & radio. The internet should be limited to the news offering.

Make good dramas. Make good documentaries (not music montages with ooo some science stuff!). Make good radio.

Value for money is rubbish cf. Sky. The only thing I watch on the BBC is Heroes, gave up on the documentaries years ago yet I am still obliged to pay the fee.

Where's a monopolies commission when you need one?

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Unhappy

Jack booted men from the Beeb

I have work for a video production company. In our offices we have various TV's VCR's and DVD recorders all with TV tuners in. None of which are plugged into an aerial because they are all used in the course of our work.

We are in a vicious cycle of getting letters from TV licensing saying they are going to call and we are bad people. We used to phone up and explain what we did but the letters just keep on coming. They are now threatening to visit us in order to catch us out.

Meanwhile none of the devices are tuned, the building has no aerial (portable aerials wouldn't work in anycase as we're in a valley 35 miles from the transmitter) and we have a perfectly reasonable excuse for buying equipment that has tuners in (we use domestic DVD recorders for quick copying and have a some domestic CRT TV sets that are used for confidence monitors).

I have no idea what planet these people live on but we've given up trying to reason with them. I half expect them to jump through the door, go "aha" while pointing at a piece of equipment and then start writing tickets like traffic wardens! I'd rip the bloody tuners out of the kit except that would destroy any warranties as well as resale value!

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Stop

Radio

"In order to use BBC LiveTV/Radio, you must have a full colour TV licence"

shouldnt be any restrictions on radio

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Your/you're

@Andrew Barratt

"If the AA can implement a "your the member not the car" surely the beeb can do "your the license payer, not the household"."

I'm afraid that when someone can't tell the difference between your and you're, I stop reading, and take no notice of what they've said.

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Paris Hilton

Isn't it about time..

....you stopped believing everything you read in the Daily Mail...

...and find out which countries support certain TV channels with a TV license, eg: Finland, Sweden, Norway and France for a start...

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Television_license

See, easy wasn't it...15 seconds it took me including the page loading times for Google and Wikipedia...

I guess you've been watching "quality" advertiser funded TV....*relatively* however the BBC are excellent....worrying really.

Paris...well because I like to pay for quality TV like Jaqui's husband.

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License

I don't mind paying the license fee - but I do object to the way it is enforced. I agree with the person who said "If you are paying a license fee, you're covered". It is not, after all, for me to be aware whether a location I go to and plug my phone into is covered or not. Completely unreasonable.

I tried to use the service on my Nokia N95 - had the response that my device seemed "unable" to receive the service. So I won't be breaking the law anyway.

Ah well, I'll just stick to listening to streaming radio on my Evoke Flow and watching the odd TV program on my computer over the Internet.

Regards

Neil

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If they're right...

...then the TV licensing laws are as stupid as we all know they are and desperately need updating for the 21st century. That's a very big 'If' though. I wouldn't trust the TVLA to be 'right' about anything, the useless, stupid, intimidating buch of muppets that they are...

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Paris Hilton

Is it the definition of "at"?

So is the issue here that some law defines "at such-and-such location" by where the TV is plugged in?

If you're visiting a friend in a different part of the country, does that fall under the "travelling" exception or do they not count because their house is not a public or commercial space of some sort? (Suppose you visit a hotel owned by your friend near where you live?)

Paris because I feel like I understand this about as well as she does.

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Flame

@ Craig

You say that we are unique in this TV tax, but Sweden with SR/SVT , Finland with YLE, and the Czech Republic with ČR/ČT have a licence together with no adverts. Many countries in Europe have a public broadcaster that is funded by a TV licence (although many have a small amount of advertising on the box or on the web) like France, Germany and Switzerland.

Compared with other public broadcasters, the Beeb is a fine example with many places often you find BBC shows in their schedules, and it is one of the few broadcasters that breaks the American hegemony in worldwide broadcasting, so back off.

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Bronze badge

Same old story

The TV Licensing Authority is a bunch of liars.

5% evasion? I know people who don't have TVs who get hassled. And have you noticed how they claim to have a reliable database?

Times are changing. I think we have better TV because of the BBC, but I have an uncomfortable feeling that the TVLA is already a liability. The BBC employs them: why can't the BBC tell them to shut up.

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@Craig Vaughton

> Why should we be the only country in the world to pay a tax to watch TV

You're kidding, right? The US is about the only country without a TV licence, most if not all EU countries pay a licence (higher than the UK) *and* pay for advertising as well.

If the BBC isn't funded by a specific licence fee, there are two choices:

1) It can go commercial. Since the amount of advertising money available won't double overnight the obvious result will be a drop in available money for all channels, and a drop in programme quality. Bear in mind that in the days before Sky etc. the average household paid *twice as much* in their shopping bills to fund the ITV channels as it did in licence fee to support the BBC.

2) Second option is to fund the BBC from general taxation rather than a separate licence. The big problem there is that it becomes a line item in the budget. Parliament can't vote on budget items separately, only yes/no on the whole budget. It is unlikely that a whole budget will be rejected just because parliament thinks that the BBC funding is wrong, and the budget is set by *Government*, not *Parliament*, so the effect of funding the BBC from general taxation is that BBC funding is then set by the government of the day. The dangers in that are obvious, I hope.

Funding of a state broadcaster should be determined by Parliament not Government. Of course, there is a question of whether there should be a state broadcaster. Personally I think that there should be, and that it should produce higher-quality output than much of the cr@p the BBC currently produces.

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Pirate

Yet another stealth tax

Great. So I buy a "smart" phone with Wifi enabled and get a £1000 fine because it is capable of receiving TV signals, even though I never use the service. I really don't know why they bother licensing per address, just change it so anyone over 18 has to pay £30 a year.

Also would probably help if they introduced a "pay per use" system, so students etc can pay £5 a week for watching TV.

Just my $0.04 worth ($0.02 increased due to inflation)

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Unhappy

Same for DVB for laptops

I had a similar conversation a few years ago when I was inquiring about a DVB tuner on a laptop. It is illegal if it is plugged in to the mains outside of the house that the license is for, unless that location has a license that covers it.

One of the most stupid pieces of legislation I have ever heard.

Also, if you have a shared occupancy dwelling, like a student house, you need a separate license for each room where one of the occupants has a television, plus one for the communal area. Talk about greedy. You can only have a multiple televisions in a house on one license if everyone is a member of the same family. So, if you have a lodger in your house, they need a license as well!

I'm not actually against the license, as it allows the BBC to do things that otherwise would not be done (I cannot fathom a situation where Rupert Murdoch controls what television programs are made), but the heavy handed and way it is applied gets my goat.

Also, in every mail, they asked me what the number of the television license was for my house. They would not take my word that I actually had a license.

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Pirate

Old news

I don't see what all the fuss is about. That "we'll now arrest you" loophole has always been there and hold for anyone with a portable tv (who plugs it in because the battery has died) and anyone with a laptop computer with a tv-card, for example.

It another of those dated systems/laws that somewhat needs upgrading in my opinion...

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Quaint

Isn't Britain wunnerful? Why, the place is so quaint and old-timey that they even employ folks to think up laws just to make us other people smile! Imagine! A tax that requires them to watch tv only in one place. Who wouldn't smile about that? /sarc off

Of course the license fee should be abolished. Will it be> Nope. Not so long as there are so many long beaks depending on its existence.

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Dead Vulture

Yawn...

"Law remains exactly the same as it was in 1982 with portable televisions" is news now?

Really?

Holy shit! I still have to pay VAT on things! And a bear has just shit in the woods!

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Coat

Am I the only person

That is happy to pay a licence fee so that I can watch the TV without adverts, even my paid for TV barrages me with adverts every 15 minutes.

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@Craig Vaughton: You are not alone

The UK isn't the only country to have a TV license. Germany has one too.

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IT Angle

Er?

How do you plug into mains electricity on a train, plane or boat? Surely you're connected to a local generator or inverter, unless of course it's an electric train and the 230v supply is derived directly by transforming the traction current. If it's a motor-generator set, then the power is transmitted mechanically so you are not connected to the mains.

Of course you could be watching tv using one battery whilst charging another one from the mains. You don't need a tv licence to charge a battery. What happens if the power is transmitted to your PDA by an induction charging system so there is no metallic connection?

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Boffin

Aussies killed TV licence in the 1970's

Your TV licence system also limits the BEEB ability to host websites for its international successes like Doctor who and Torchwood. Outsiders have to go to international fansites for any information as the BEEB blocks content to those outside of UK. I am surprised you can afford the enforcement regime. Cant find a copper unless they are confusing you for a terrorist or a protestor but no shortage of licence enforcers.

Our Parliament decided to cut the TV Licence back in the seventies and fund the ABC (and later SBS) from the budget. They thought TV was essential was to development of the Nation. Not only that they could not afford the enforcers, who were quickly getting a reputation worse than secret police, sitting in your suburb hunting for the telltale glow of a TV through the curtains.

As our ABC has become the Authoritative TV and News service in our Nation, we as a population have to defend it vigorously , it is often affected by across the board budget cuts and it does not have the spare cash to create lavish blockbusters like the BBC. Politicians also like to think they can subdue it by threatening it budget.

I remember the TV licence guy police coming to the door, me keeping the door closed while my mum covered the TV with a large doily. The TV's wooden casing had been painted to match the dark burgundy of the furniture.

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Black Helicopters

Not all options covered

Premises + you have license, plugged in - ok regardless of batter or mains.

Premises have license, you don't , plugged in - ok?

Premises have license, you don't , not plugged in - breaking the law?

Premises no license, you do, not plugged in - ok.

Premises no license, you do, plugged in - breaking the law

Neither premise nor you have license - breaking the law regardless of battery or mains.

Does that make any logical sense? How does where a device get its power from (battery or mains) make a difference? The law is an ass.

And detector vans are in your area!

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Coat

TV Lying Authority

OH CRAP ! The TV Lying Authority are just trying it on again, what REALLY will happen is that is that the owner of the cafe with the WiFi connection lovingly set up for his customers is going to be severally and jointly liable along with the customer and until poodle Britain wakes up to this latest scam to fleece its good folk.

Why ? Simple - because the WiFi handset is NOT a complete receiver of such signals WITHOUT the host WiFi internet apparatus. and this means ..............................

ALL WiFi enabled routers will require a TV Licence to allow them to comply and so on until all types of connection are covered with a TV Ly-Sense

After all those lovely Beeb babes (and EXs) such as Ross and Brand are high maintenance types that require a means as unpleasant as their banter to be funded

And WHY would they put out such a release ANYWAY ? Obvious they are testing the water again

AKA taking the piss

Yep, that's the TV Lying Authority rifling your wallet again !!

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Anonymous Coward

TV licence only required for live viewing

...so why don't they just stream it 30s behind?

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Licence fee

There is a lot of criticism of the BBC that I feel is unjustified. The BBC produce some great stuff in comparison to the mindless dross churned out by the other broadcasters in the UK (they also produce some pretty dire content). I don't know about everywhere, but the free-to-air TV that I have watched in the US and parts of Europe can't hold a candle to the Beeb. The greatest thing of all is the lack of adverts (esp now that F1 is back where it belongs), which imnsho is worth the licence fee alone. That doesn't even start to think about the radio services provided...

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