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Taking the nation's temperature on 2012

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Roger Mosey | 11:00 UK time, Wednesday, 31 August 2011

We're entering the final lap. Summer pretty much over; less than 11 months to go; athletes' qualification well under way - and everything is now geared to the big finish. So it's worth another check on how the nation is feeling about London 2012.

The headline is: positive but not yet excited. And I'm basing this on recent surveys by the BBC, and interpretation of them by our audience research team.

To start with the good news for the organisers - most people do think the Olympics will have a favourable effect on the country. The figures are 65% expecting the impact to be positive and 9% believing it will be negative.

Also encouraging is that there aren't massive differences in opinions further away from London. Northern Ireland has always been a leader in enthusiasm for the Games, and the favourability rating there has gone up further in the past couple of years from 53% to 74%. Scotland, previously lagging behind, has moved from 38% shortly after Beijing to 63% now, while Wales has gone from 46% to 65%.

London itself is up from 58% to 69%, and this time it's the south of England which appears to be somewhat tepid - with the South West the only area to score below 60% with a score of 57%.

The Olympic Stadium at Stratford at one year to go to the Games

Some will start to follow 2012 news only once the Games are on. Picture: Getty Images.

But does that general approval mean there's "excitement"? No. People aren't yet dancing in the streets, and only 9% are claiming they're "very excited" about London 2012 with 25% "fairly excited". But 20% say they're "not particularly excited" and 23% say they're "not excited at all".

We'd expect those figures to change as we get closer to the Games, but it's worth noting that 34% of people being excited to some degree equates to around 16 million people - which isn't a negligible number this far out. The people who are most keen are under 55s, people in social groups ABC1 and Londoners.

These kind of read-outs from our main audience research are also reflected in some specific work done for BBC News. Around 30% of the audience say they'll be "following closely" news about the Olympics, while 36% say they've no interest at this stage. The main things the enthusiasts said they did want to hear about were how British athletes are preparing (23%); athletes qualifying (23%); the readiness of the Olympic sites (21%); and the cost of the whole thing (21%). Interest in milestones - like 100 days to go - was very low at only 8%.

So what do all these statistics add up to? It shows, as I've said before, that audiences have radically different attitudes and there will be no pleasing everyone. Millions want to hear a lot about 2012, and millions are quite happy to wait until the Opening Ceremony - with some not even bothered about that.

Partly that can be addressed by targeting what we're doing - focusing on services like 5 Live, BBC Sport's regular slots, BBC London and this website where more enthusiasts will congregate. Partly it's what I've always recognised - that banging the drum too loudly and too early would be a mistake. But this is not something that can be decided by the equivalent of a national phone-in vote.

We know that come Games-time, as with Beijing and Athens and Sydney, the audience levels move massively into the majority - with 75% or more tuning in for some of the action. The research helps us shape the coverage between now and then, as well as focusing on the issues people care most about. But the key thing is making sure we don't let down the people who want to know more now - just as we hear the message that this isn't yet the time for saturation coverage.


  • Comment number 1.

    Concerned as I am that this blog will become the latest focus point for fans of another sport to 'vent', I'll get a comment in now: when do you think it will be time for saturation coverage? Will it be more chicken and egg - the BBC try and drive up people's interest, so people become interested, so you put on more coverage, driving up people's interest, etc.?

    Separately, when can we expect an announcement about the on screen 'talent' and the commentators for the Games and the Games events? Not asking for names, but will yourself and the rest of the BBC team be actively accepting feedback (and soliciting it from the public) on what works and what doesn't? The right people draws people in and makes them interested in the event, as Channel 4 have found to their cost with the World Athletics Championships this week.

  • Comment number 2.

    I find it interesting that we are talking about saturation coverage of the olympics and what enthusiasts want to see when the BBC don't have any coverage of the World Athletics Championships right now! If the BBC wanted to drive up people's interested surely coverage of these championships would have been the way to do that? I do not believe that the Olympics could possibly be over saturated especially in terms of athletics coverage as it does not get enough attention in the first place.

    I look forward to the build up to the olympics and this includes all areas of coverage from GB qualification and training to the personalities that will be presenting it.

  • Comment number 3.

    While I am a sports fan I feel already I've heard too much about the olymoics. Even individual sport's world chamionships are reported as an olympic test event or qualifying event. For sports such as tennis and football the olympics are a distraction from the main events, although the players won't say as much on camera.

    Just because its in london doesn't add anything to the event for me, I'd rather have guaranteed good weather and smooth running than potential rain delays and traffic/crime problems.

  • Comment number 4.

    I'm sorry reallyneutral but i totally disagree with your comments. The fact that it is in London is the whole plus point of these olympics compared to previous olympics. Also regarding weather and traffic, surely these are issues that we deal with everyday living in London, especially considering British summers that depress us all! In contrast I believe the Olympics will give us a welcome distraction from these trivial daily problems.

    I do agree that for sports such as Football, Tennis and Golf when it is reinstated in 2016, the olympics is undoubtedly of no interest for the leading stars. These sports however are given overwhelming coverage anyway, hence the importance of the Olympics. They are the premier event for a number of sports which you never see any other time of year, e.g athletics, swimming, boxing, rowing - the list goes on.

  • Comment number 5.

    Ask kids if they're excited about Christmas in July and you might get a different answer than when you ask them on Christmas Eve. There's a lot can happen in a year and there could well be gold medal winners that aren't even on the radar at the moment.

  • Comment number 6.

    Well, I'm excited about 2012, and am confident that Team GB will perform well.....and who knows, we may have F1 back in 2013!!

    Jess Ennis may actually benefit from losing her title this year as in a greater motivation to prove herself at the Olympics, as will, hopefully, Mo Farah. We may be tepid in our trepidation for next year right now, but give it 6 months and we'll all be excited...........

  • Comment number 7.

    JordanD in #1: I don't think you can force-feed sceptics at the moment and turn them into enthusiasts - and RememberScarborough in #5 is right about what should happen over time. On the talent question: not sure this is one that can be done by a kind-of public consultation, but we're determined to provide a strong and interesting line-up.

    DanMc in #2: BBC Sport was outbid for the World Athletics Championships, but we retain our commitment to the UK Athletics properties and to the Diamond League - as well as excellent Worlds coverage on 5 Live.

  • Comment number 8.

    Roger, is there any truth in the rumours that the BBC are selling half the Olympic coverage to Sky?

  • Comment number 9.

    Having been heavily involved in public One Year to Go celebrations in Derby in July I am certain that the appetite for the Olympic and Paralympic Games is very strong.

    The public response to the Big Screen footage of Olympic and Paralympic footage was very positive but the reaction to the 2012 Torch at the event was fantastic. Suddenly, things seemed to become more of a reality for people and their excitement visibly grew. With the Torch Relay due in the City on 29 June 2012 the public support can only increase - a process I would epxect to see repeated throughout the country as the Games approach.

    Children in schools are certainly getting more and more excited about the Games, something we collectively have to make sure we capitalise on.

    Some people will always be against things like the Games, but that shouldn't mean that those who are interested water-down their own excitement as some sort of apology. Next summer will be very exciting, there is no need whatsoever to apologise for enjoying it.

  • Comment number 10.

    The staging of the IAAF WC hasn't helped the Olympic buildup (but neither has all the other World Championships coverage going on at this time)

    I feel sorry for Channel 4 and Ortis Deley in particular.
    Coverage starting at 2am, empty stadiums and our athletes not performing makes public interest difficult.
    In time I'm sure Channel 4 will learn alot from their first big outing in sport.

    What would help all athletics is clearer advertising of events, 'Catch the 200m final live at..." etc

  • Comment number 11.

    Will Evans in #9: I heard really good reports about Derby and One Year To Go, and I think you're absolutely right about the Torch Relay.

  • Comment number 12.

    8.At 09:55 1st Sep 2011, HCumber wrote:
    Roger, is there any truth in the rumours that the BBC are selling half the Olympic coverage to Sky?
    Even if they did, anything that Sky show must be also shown live on 'terrestrial' channels. This is all down to the much heralded Ofcom Code on Sports and Other Listed and Designated Events (, which declares that the Olympics "must have live coverage made available to free-to-air channels, although PPV networks may share live coverage."

  • Comment number 13.

    I would have to say this coverage is way too early for me. There are many other major sporting events before the Olympics (for example Rugby World Cup) which should be taking the lions share of the coverage at the moment. When the Olympics is the next major event, I will start thinking about it then. Hype it too much now to the point I can't avoid it and I am going to get frustrated.

  • Comment number 14.

    Personally, I was in the 'very excited' category until tickets went on sale. I live in London and can't get one ticket, yet I see people who have managed to obtain dozens of tickets.
    I'm now in the 'not excited at all' category. All down to the ticket strategy......

    What's funny is that I got offered VIP tickets to to Daegu from the Korean Government. Sometimes you need to switch alliances to become appreciated.....

  • Comment number 15.

    Even if they did, anything that Sky show must be also shown live on 'terrestrial' channels. This is all down to the much heralded Ofcom Code on Sports and Other Listed and Designated Events (, which declares that the Olympics "must have live coverage made available to free-to-air channels, although PPV networks may share live coverage."


    I think you'll find that at you will see that Althletics comes under Category B and it states that "Category B events can be shown on PPV, provided sufficient secondary coverage (highlights, delayed broadcast, etc.) is made to free-to-air broadcasters." So they don't have to provide "live coverage made available to free-to-air channels, although PPV networks may share live coverage."

  • Comment number 16.

    I'm afraid that the figures cited here for those who really aren't that excited about the Olympics being in London may in fact be still higher. My admittedly anecdotal experience is that many London people were not overly keen on the Olympics being here, with some in fact rather wishing that Paris had won the bid. (Apparantly the increase in council tax in connection with the Olympics rankles with many).

    A point about the last paragraph in the blog - tuning in to see some action and support our athletes is not the same as support for the Olympics in general or, specifically, in London.

  • Comment number 17.

    Will watch certain events, but overall, not excited at all, might have been if the whole country was involved ie sailing on the far more attractive west coast, cycling up north, for me it`s a way of promoting London whilst dangerously teetering the country towards massive debts.

  • Comment number 18.

    The fact that it's in London this time around is neither here nor there (for me anyway...). Each Olympics is always billed 'greatest show on earth' - no doubt the Rio games will have the same tag in 4 years time when London 2012 is distant memory.

    Personally, I will still avidly watch TV coverage of most of the sports - (except the soccer)

    Did not apply for over-priced tickets, with over-priced accommodation and over-priced transport costs to get to an over-priced city.

    I suspect London may have the "wow" appeal to say the Americans, Chinese, Japanese etc. I went to Sydney 2000, which was pricey, but was worth the expense due to the "wow" location.

  • Comment number 19.

    Roger its intresting that you are refusing to clarify rumours regarding that the BBC will be sharing the 2016 Rio Games in Brazil, with Sky, ITV or Channel 4, you defend your stance by saying " The BBC do not comment on ongoing Rights negotiation" yet a "BBC Insider" presumably one of your colleagues has told the Daily Mirror:

    “The fee is huge and it won’t all be prime time due to the time difference,
    Some of the execs here want to keep it to ourselves but can we really afford it? It could be the time to strike a deal with other broadcasters.

    “There are more important sporting events to keep on the BBC – like Wimbledon, the Grand National and the World Cup final.”

    So seeing as BBC Employees are prepared to discuss on going rights negotations, would it not be sensibile for such details being posted on official BBC Places like this blog, instead of in Comics like the Daily Mirror, and in Charles Sales Sport Agenda?

    It seems BBC Execs have got lots of double standards.

  • Comment number 20.

    Fedster in #19: the BBC never comments on rights negotiations for a host of very good reasons. The people involved in the deals don't either, so I would completely discount anonymous quotes.

  • Comment number 21.

    I accept what you are saying Roger, but would you accept that on occasions people from the BBC do leak stuff to the Newspapers, whenever there is a major sporting contract avaliable ( Cricket Rights, Champions League Football rights to name but 2) it just seems pretty silly when we get the official line that the BBC never comment on Rights Negotiations, yet it seems they so freely leak Information to Newspapers during negotations.

    Dont get me wrong, i accept what you are saying regarding the Olympics and the anonymous quotes, but i still think there must be some leaking going on during negotations for different Rights!!!

  • Comment number 22.

    Fedster - well, the best example of why you should never believe leaks was in 2008 when I was still director of sport. We acquired F1 and that lengthy negotiation was leaked nowhere at all, so when we made the announcement it came as a bolt from the blue. By contrast at the same time the papers were full of stuff about our "bid" for the Champions League and how we were determined to grab the rights at massive cost - when actually we bid nothing at all. So some alleged "insiders" will be reported through anonymous quotes, but they're usually the people who know little or nothing about what's going on.

  • Comment number 23.

    @22 Roger, seeing as you raise the subject of F1 and it is therefore on topic, how can we be sure that the Olympics will remain on the BBC in 2012 and not be sold between now and then, as the F1 was?

    I know that the Olympics holds protected status, but so too did the F1 under the Concorde Agreement, and the BBC managed to find a loophole in that, and acted in a way that is very damaging to the sport and against the interest of the license payer.

    We're now at the very ugly position where our MP's are going to have to force the BBC for answers, and quite right too, the BBC should be accountable for its actions:

    It's a shame that the BBC refuse to answer the thousands of F1 complaints in any meaningful way, and I'd hate to see the same situation replicated for the Olympics.

    Right now I'm excited about the Olympics but no more than any other one. I will be watching it (or at least 50% of it?) on the TV like any other games as I can't get tickets, the fact that it's in the UK doesn't make a huge amount of difference.

  • Comment number 24.

    @23 HCumber

    Agreed, when will the BBC come clean about how the deal was negotiated, why they didn't pull out completely and let another free-to-air broadcaster take over. These are topical questions that need answering NOW!!!! Go Don Foster!!!!!!!!!

    p.s. this is on topic as Mr Mosey brought this up in post 22 so don't dare censor.

  • Comment number 25.

    I wonder how much of this sport cost cutting is real and how much is just senior executives throwing their toys out of the pram because they have had to give up some of their perks?

    It does seem strange that the very popular sports are being hit with these cuts and we find the BBC paying 22 million for the idea to sing behind a curtain from the US.

    I would like to point out that not everything from the US is good.

    As for the Olympics hand it all over to ITV and Channel 4 then, see if we care.

    I find it incredulous that you cut the very programmes that tick all your BBC Charter boxes in value for everything.

    Methinks you doth protest to much about your cuts.

  • Comment number 26.

    Coverage of the Olympics though shouldn't mean highly expensive saturation coverage of the tiniest little aspect with the incumbent costs that have led the BBC to disappoint (and then ignore!) millions of fans of other sports such as F1 and world athletics etc.

    The BBC's claim to be a public service broadcaster is looking more and more unreal every day, as is its belief that the licence fee has a future.

    If you do not, or will not understand how important it is to listen and respond to the wants and concerns of those who pay for the BBC then you must not be disappointed when they refuse to support your continued existence by way of taxing them. It really is that simple................

  • Comment number 27.

    @1 Jordan D

    Yep us F1 fans have been "high jacking" BBC blogs to get our point across and asking for awnsers we had to do this as the BBC shut down all the F1 blogs.

    I know jake from the BBC's F1 team is going to be a host for the Olypmics(now that his main job is only part time Im sure he will be putting a lot the time and effort as he does for F1)

    Oh and by the way

    Looks like its not only F1 rights to be sold off.
    You see this is not just about F1 its about sport as a whole on the BBC.
    There can't be that much left on the BBC to sell off,no wonder they axed Grandstand no sport to show on it any more:)

  • Comment number 28.

  • Comment number 29.

    @28 - here's a reminder about how savings should and could be made in other areas of the BBC (£100million in this instance, and probably a conservative estimate as it's a BBC article), rather than cutting on in-demand content, such as F1 and the Olympics:

    At this rate, when the license fee freeze ends, you will have no worthy content to warrant it.

  • Comment number 30.

    Also would like to say thankyou to roger to take time out to reply to the public.
    Maybe you could have a word with some of your co workers in the F1 deptment:)

    And sorry for high jacking your blog but I feel this point needs to get across for all BBC sport viewers.

  • Comment number 31.

    I personally think that the London 2012 Olympics are just a big ego boost for London, nothing for the rest of the country to rejoice about. Why would anybody who lives 300 miles away from London think that they will benefit from this? Think of how many billions could have and should have been put to better use. So yes lets all rejoice in the saturation coverage.................NOT!!!!

  • Comment number 32.

    Very informative blog post, therefore, it is with regret that I am "hijacking" this blog.

    Please can you give your colleagues a "nudge" and tell them to lead by your example, and reply to the feedback?

    It's astonishing that daily newspaper and certain car magazines are shedding more light on the matter than the parties involved. This would certainly quash the rumours, if a statement from the source was evident. But as it is, we're left to feed on the produce of the rumour mill, and our frustration grows.

  • Comment number 33.

    And furthermore....

    If you are not obliged to discuss rights deals, then please explain:

    "BBC Sport was outbid for the World Athletics Championships, but we retain our commitment to the UK Athletics properties and to the Diamond League - as well as excellent Worlds coverage on 5 Live."

  • Comment number 34.


    How very true, it's nice to see that Roger's head is out of the sand!!!

  • Comment number 35.

    SirAdam in #33 - I'm once again going to have to do what I said in an earlier blog and not use the sixth letter of the alphabet in conjunction with the number between 0 and 2... But the discussion with Fedster was clearly about speculation and prospective deals.

    Farmergiles in #31 - well, I'd refer you to the comments in #9. And I spent a really good morning in Newcastle recently where a lot of people are seizing the initiative for North East England from the Torch's journey there and from the Olympic football at St James's Park.

  • Comment number 36.

    I well remember the uproar when the BBC announced its plans for extensive coverage of the World Cup in 1966. And that was when most people only had two channels. The BBC were proved dramatically right. A lesson ITV have never forgotten. For those people who still don't like the Olympics there are plenty of other things to watch these days. However for the BBC to have these rights and not exploit them in the way they propose would be ridiculous.

  • Comment number 37.

    I will watch the Olympics, for sure hours of it. But in the case I didn't: I have at least 100 other channels on my set-top-box, so do not ask the BBC to cater for all our needs on these two summer weeks.

  • Comment number 38.

    Roger thanks for replying, its really appreciated!!! I used to follow your posts on the Sport Editors Blog, and you always posted intresting pieces, and you always used to take time to answer questions, since you have left the Sport Editors Blog has been a shadow of its previous self, and the Lady who took over your job, has not posted once in the last 2 years, which is shocking when compared to your standards!!

    Maybe she doesnt care about Blogs, or isnt comfortable with answering Questions, but as you have shown, answering Questions and treating people with respect,leads to people showing you the same behaviour, is it not possible you could take over Sport Editors Blog again?

    Also my last few questions regarding the BBCs approach to rights negotation,this is just for clarity, and i appreciate your answers before!!

    Are Newspapers making things up, in other words lying, when they claim they have Quotes from BBC "Insiders" "Sources" call it what you will? Or is it a case of a bad Apple spoiling it for the rest and leaking stuff to Newspapers? I am of course talking in the contex of when Major Sporting TV Rights are avalaible.

    I am genuinely intrested in to know, because in these cases in my experience, Joe Public gets extremly angry with the BBC, because they open a Newspaper, and read that:

    BBC bids £400m for Champions League games

    BBC expected to bid for test cricket rights

    BBC to bid for live Premiership package

    Back in 2005 you confirmed to the Guardian, that the BBC will be bidding for Live Premiership footabll,surely this contradicts your assertion that the "BBC never comments on rights negotiations"

    Of course as you have pointed out the alleged CL Football bid by the BBC was a fairy tale, but why do the BBC let Newspapers publish these stories without taking any action, alot of the anger from License fee payers is because they read stories like the above, and they believe it, or is it because of the status of the BBC, Newspapers can print what they want, and cause anger and lack of faith in the BBC, because what are in effect blatant untruths?

  • Comment number 39.

    I suspect Fedster that some newspaper journalists are insufficiently rigorous about the sources they rely on.
    Roger and indeed his predecessor Peter Salmon both made comments about sports they would like to see back on the BBC. IIRC no such bids were made when the time came. I remember Jonathan Martin some years ago refusing to be interviewed at all on a BBC programme which was discussing future bidding strategies because he didn't want to show his hand. Anyway I think you're being very optimistic if you anyone the BBC included can stop newspapers printing rubbish.

  • Comment number 40.

    Fedster and jcb: interesting points and questions.

    Often in bids we're legally unable to comment - either because there's a confidentiality agreement in place about a live tender or because of wider competition laws.

    In terms of commenting before that - I never said in 2005 we'd bid for live football as the text of the interview makes clear. I did consistently say we wanted to bid for live cricket but that was in the context of a long-running disagreement with the ECB about the terms and structure of potential broadcasting deals - so it was part of a debate not an actual bidding process.

    As for "BBC insiders" - well, they could be any one of thousands of people or (as you suggest) in some cases nobody much at all.

    Piet in #37: good point - and on-topic too...

  • Comment number 41.

    "Taking the nation's temperature on 2012"

    While the 2012 Olympics leaves me cold, I am absolutely blazing about certain planned changes to FTA coverage of another sport.....

    Care to guess which one? ;-)

  • Comment number 42.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 43.


    Dont worry FlugelD the BBC is looking(selling) their rights to show the Olympics.
    It beggers the question will the BBC even need a sports deptment soon as the dont seem to have a lot of sport on air anymore.

  • Comment number 44.

    Dont worry FlugelD the BBC is looking to share(selling) their rights to show the Olympics.
    It beggers the question will the BBC even need a sports deptment soon as the dont seem to have a lot of sport on air anymore.

    Sorry for the doubble post so angry about the BBC selling off all their sport Im posting with out checking (need an edit button).

  • Comment number 45.


    Can you comment on this story in today's IoS? I realise that you are not the IOC but given the huge cost of your coverage, will the BBC be as unbiased as they claim and cover such stories in the news in the months and weeks leading up to the jamboree? Or will it be business as usual - ignoring any criticism?

  • Comment number 46.

    No ferrari35. The BBC are not looking to share their rights to the Olympics. The only games left on the current EBU contract are next years. Only the BBC of the EBU's UK members is involved in those. The speculation is about games from 2014 onwards for which no contract has yet been awarded for the UK to the BBC or any other broadcaster. I know you like many others are upset about F1, but get your facts right.

  • Comment number 47.

    @46 jcb336 Im just going by what the mirror printed about the coverage of the 2016 Olympics I was in no way talking about 2012 none of it is any fact of mine.

    I know this does not make it true any news outlet can spin a story to suit their needs (like the BBC saying how the deal with SKY was the only way to keep F1 on fta TV all the while omiting the fact C4 put in a bid to match SKY)

    Who knows what will happen in five years time but Ill bet you this the only full coverage the BBC will have on the 2016 games will be five live.

  • Comment number 48.

    The only comment I've seen from a Channel 4 executive on F1 is that they couldn't match the money-I have been unable to find any substantiation for anything else. On the internet unsubstantiated rumours quickly gain the status of holy writ.

    If Sky are so minded they can outbid everybody for everything. Its only if rights holders want the potential coverage, or if the event is on the protected list that the FTA broadcasters will win out. Even than the rightsholders will look for substantial fees. That's why much of the current criticism is just so naive.

  • Comment number 49.

    I wonder how many people don't realise that the BBC doesn't have the rights to the Paralympics in 2012?

  • Comment number 50.

    Would they show the Paralympics even if they had the rights? I doubt that they would care enough to do so. They have the rights to show GP2/3 but we don't even get it mentioned in passing let alone see any of it.

  • Comment number 51.

    Zebbers in #45: our reporting will be fair and independent. I've repeatedly said Panorama must be Panorama, and Newsnight must be Newsnight - so they and our other news output will do their normal job in covering the Olympics.

    On your comment in #50: we made a strong bid for the Paralympics including a major commitment on hours - building on the fact we pioneered broadcasting of Paralympic sport in the UK.

  • Comment number 52.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 53.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 54.

    Post #53 did not break the house rules. BBC censorship in action.

  • Comment number 55.

    Hi Roger

    I see reports of over 10 hours a day of the 2012 being available in 3D. Also suggestions that the BBC will provide "some" 3D coverage.

    Can you reveal any plans for what 3D coverage the BBC will provide next year?

  • Comment number 56.

    Citizenloz - not yet. But we always said we thought some of London 2012 should be captured in 3D, and our Wimbledon experiment this year points the way forward.


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