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Making Newsnight unmissable

Peter Barron | 15:15 UK time, Friday, 22 February 2008

I was at a fascinating BBC2 marketing event this morning, complete with bean bag seating, live acapella singing and lots of facts and figures about the Channel's audience. Against the received wisdom that the growth of multi-channel homes means inexorable decline in audiences for the terrestrial channels, BBC2 is hanging onto its share and attracting younger audiences.

Newsnight logoOn Newsnight too our audience has remained remarkably solid during all these years of audience fragmentation. Throughout its history the Newsnight audience figures have oscillated between 800,000 and 1.2m - at the moment we're bang in the middle of that on 1m. And that doesn't take into account all the new ways of consuming the programme - including a million hits a month on our website.

Our big problem is Thursday nights, when the high profile presence of Question Time on BBC1 splits the audience for current affairs and blows a big hole in our figures.

But as of today, the conflicted Newsnight/Question Time fan has a solution to that 10.30pm dilemma. From now on every edition of Newsnight will be available on the BBC's iPlayer to view for the next seven days. It won't help our raw audience figures, but at least you can catch up with the programme.

The iPlayer service is only available in the UK, but the good news for international viewers is that at the end of February we launch an international edition of Newsnight on BBC America and BBC World. The one-hour programme will be a collection of the highlights of each week's programmes with an international focus, broadcast every Friday.

It should mean that Newsnight will reach more viewers than at any time in its history. It would be good to hear what kinds of items viewers around the world would most appreciate.


  • 1.
  • At 04:10 PM on 22 Feb 2008,
  • Bedd Gelert wrote:

This might sound a ridiculous idea - but chew it over for a minute.

Why not put Newsnight Review out on a Thursday evening ? Many of the people who might be interested in what Review has to say might very well be out on the town enjoying the films / theatre shows / arts which Review is covering.

I am guessing that there might be quite a different audience for Newsnight Review and Question Time, but then again , it might not. And even if they were watching Question Time, I think Review is a programme which is more likely to be watched again on iPlayer as people decide what films / programmes to watch or books to buy.

Worth chewing over, I would say..

The website hit count should be taken with a pinch of salt, I reckon half of those are people trying to get their blog posts to register.


(sort of)

  • 3.
  • At 04:54 PM on 22 Feb 2008,
  • keith fleming wrote:

You forgot to mention (as it seems the BBC always does) that one can use the iPlayer only within the UK and *only with Microsoft Internet Explorer*.

Those of us who are not in thrall to the mighty Microsoft don't get to play. Again.

  • 4.
  • At 06:02 PM on 22 Feb 2008,
  • Susan Wilson wrote:

"But as of today, the conflicted Newsnight/Question Time fan has a solution to that 10.30pm dilemma."

iPlayer is great and all that, but it doesn't do anything more snazzy than anyone with a video recorder has been able to to since the eighties, or Sky+ since 2001. ie watch QT, tape newsnight or vice-versa.

(and you could keep your progs on tape for more than 8 days......!)

  • 5.
  • At 06:07 PM on 22 Feb 2008,
  • Somebody wrote:

Will both the full UK Newsnight AND Newsnight Scotland be available to Scottish viewers?

  • 6.
  • At 06:30 PM on 22 Feb 2008,
  • ale bro wrote:

To whom where you marketing BBC 2?

I'm sure the cost of the marketing event will be justified by the large increase in the number of viewers.

  • 7.
  • At 06:32 PM on 22 Feb 2008,
  • Frank Merritt wrote:

On Newsnight I would like to see cutting edge thinkers/educators.

  • 8.
  • At 06:37 PM on 22 Feb 2008,
  • Stephen Hodges wrote:

Living in the US, we miss good news and I have enjoyed the recent 7 p.m. hour of BBC News, and was excited to hear Newsnight was coming as well. Surely the BBC can lose an hour of something else each day and let us have Newsnight on a daily basis! I have been overseas for 12 years now and can not wait to see this show again

  • 9.
  • At 06:43 PM on 22 Feb 2008,
  • John Bucksey wrote:

It will be good to get your new international edition here in South Africa in advance of the iplayer service being available here.
I am sure your selection of items will be of interest to most expats but remember that nearly half a million of us are unfairly discriminated against by having our pensions frozen at the date we left the UK because of where we live. The odd programme or two of your incisive reporting on this subject will be welcome.
All the best.
John Bucksey. Ex UK in 2000.

  • 10.
  • At 06:49 PM on 22 Feb 2008,
  • richard wrote:

G'Day Peter.

Thanks for the news that you are coming to me on the dreaded BBC World from the end of the month. My what a frightful channel it is. Your presence can only improve it.

What do I want? News and comment of an international nature. And from the top half of the world as well please. Not just your lot down there in the snow.

What I don't want are endless segments of wooden dummies sitting around a round table saying: I think, or I believe.

I want your slant on matters Thai (where I live) and Oz etc. Not endless discussions on Brown et al.

Am I stretching you too far?

How's that for starters?

And I wish your server responded in a decent time.

  • 11.
  • At 06:52 PM on 22 Feb 2008,
  • Joseph wrote:

Why are Newsnight and Question Time scheduled over one another?

  • 12.
  • At 06:56 PM on 22 Feb 2008,
  • aTexan wrote:

My DVR is already set for Newsnight's premiere next Friday on BBCAmerica.

  • 13.
  • At 06:57 PM on 22 Feb 2008,
  • nita scott wrote:

I'd like to see an unedited version of the nightly program without a nod to the international side - UK detailed politics is not that boring . Newsnight Review would be excellent in its complete form too .


The Newsnight vs. Question Time problem on Thursday nights is always a tough choice -- Question Time normally wins due to the fact it is only on (in full length) once a week.

I like the move of making Newsnight available on BBC iPlayer. (And I would be one of the younger audiences -- I happen to be a 16 year old who loves both of these programmes.)

  • 15.
  • At 07:03 PM on 22 Feb 2008,
  • David Knopfler wrote:

Seems illogical to me that the license fee only covers a given property and that there isn't a way for a UK license fee payer to view via the internet using iplayer - couldn't they for example type in their license fee number?

  • 16.
  • At 07:11 PM on 22 Feb 2008,
  • Mariana Fassnidge wrote:

All around the world viewers could contribute with ideas in what they believe to be the most pressing local news areas that would need the kind of in-depth report and debate that Newsnight is well-known for. In that way, the programme could slowly encompass this big diverse and exciting world of ours and make it truly international and a far-reaching window to the state of the planet.

For instance, where I live now, in Chile, the need to increase the number of water-powered energy stations is beginning to destroy large untouched areas in the South, flooding vast valleys and indigenous towns, destroying their ill-remaining culture, all in the name of having well-lit modern cities in this vast country.

Kudos on it coming to BBC America, some of us miss Jeremy's style.

Of course, the question is, when you add the show to iPlayer, is the BBC going to come clean about its use of Kontiki?

Newsnight on iPlayer? Fantastic - finally I can watch Newsnight on my schedule in decent video quality (I really don't like the realplayer version).

Another reason to feel warm and fuzzy about my licence fee.

  • 19.
  • At 07:22 PM on 22 Feb 2008,
  • George Nicoll wrote:

Great news. Have never missed Newsnight for many many years except on Thursdays when Question Time took precedence. Now I can have it all.

  • 20.
  • At 07:23 PM on 22 Feb 2008,
  • Simon Collins wrote:

I'm writing from New York and I CAN"T WAIT for Newsnight on BBC America. The media over here merely repeats press releases and the only tough interviewers have extremist political views so we're desperate for the balanced savagings of dear Jeremy, Kirsty, Gavin et al.

Years ago I was at the British Consulate here in NY for the British elections and we were treated to Jeremy interviewing Michael Portillo - the Americans amongst us had ever seen anything like it.

Perhaps you could interview the head of BBC America and ask why in general it's such repeated rubbish? At least Newsnight will bring a bit of genuine value.

Yours aye,
Simon Collins


I just record one (VCR)and watch the other. If I fail, I can watch either on line. What are we celebrating exactly?

  • 22.
  • At 07:25 PM on 22 Feb 2008,
  • Nigel Perry wrote:

The kindest thing that Newsnight could do for the entire human race is to make the issue of population control a normal matter for frequent discussion.

At present, overpopulation seems to be a taboo subject - perhaps because politicians are afraid to mention it.

As the shortages of energy, fresh water and grain bring ever higher food prices, our standard of living will decline and the population problem will no longer be deniable.

The population of the Earth is said to be increasing now by 70 million per year.

If anyone believes that the planet can sustain more than 700 million of us in comfort (let alone 7 billion) then let them tell us how.

  • 23.
  • At 07:34 PM on 22 Feb 2008,
  • Richard Tugman wrote:

First of all thank you for accommodating BBC America viewers. I for one would certainly appreciate a focus on international issues more specifically reporting on the environment. I also believe that Newsnight’s reporting from countries like Pakistan is excellent.

I appreciate the style of questioning that one witnesses on Newsnight particularly Jeremy Paxman and Gavin Esler when they get into an issue. It may be somewhat of a generalization however seldom does one experience this style of questioning on US broadcast media; highlights of such interviews would therefore also be nice.

Thanks again.

  • 24.
  • At 07:36 PM on 22 Feb 2008,
  • Kyle G. Brown wrote:

This goes some way to consoling those of us who have mourned the disappearance of the beloved Newsnight podcast.

Its return would still be welcomed, because one hour a week won't be long enough to retain the gems that make Newsnight essential viewing in the UK and abroad.

There are two reasons for this, and they're two things I'll be looking for on BBC World's version of the program: Good interviews and solid international stories. There is no equivalent of the quintessential Paxman interview, on this side of the Atlantic.

And your documentary-style reports and clever scripting are just as welcome.

But one question: does the format change mean we won't be able to access the Newsnight program online any more from abroad?

A weekly "best of," amounting to a mere hour, shan't be enough!


  • 25.
  • At 07:51 PM on 22 Feb 2008,
  • Catherine wrote:

In your international edition of Newsnight, can you please include news from UK and Europe? As International viewers, we do like to hear of England and Europe especially on Political and economic issues. Can you include medical breakthroughs, trends, issues from around the world

  • 26.
  • At 07:51 PM on 22 Feb 2008,
  • Richard Tugman wrote:

First of all thank you for accommodating BBC America viewers. I for one would certainly appreciate a focus on international issues more specifically reporting on the environment. I also believe that Newsnight’s reporting from countries like Pakistan is excellent.

I appreciate the style of questioning that one witnesses on Newsnight particularly Jeremy Paxman and Gavin Elser when they get into an issue. It may be somewhat of a generalization however seldom does one experience this style of questioning on US broadcast media; highlights of such interviews would therefore also be nice.

Thanks again.

  • 27.
  • At 07:53 PM on 22 Feb 2008,
  • Pietro wrote:

I find Newsnight very interesting, except when it goes into stories and (endless) discussions about domestic politics or trivial local matters. I feel this way about any country I happen to be in, not just the UK. A mix of stories of international interest and culture would be just fine - with Newsnight's high quality in-depth treatment and commentary.

  • 28.
  • At 07:56 PM on 22 Feb 2008,
  • Joseph wrote:

Why are Newsnight and Question Time scheduled over one another?

  • 29.
  • At 07:57 PM on 22 Feb 2008,
  • Gill Talwar wrote:

I am very pleased to hear that expats like myself will soon be able to watch at least some of newsnight on BBC america. I like to keep up with UK news but not in as much detail as when I lived there. What i would like to see most is coverage of those areas of the world where the US press is entirely onesided and Newsnight can offer a different perspective. e.g. Cuba, Israel, Venezuela etc.

  • 30.
  • At 08:05 PM on 22 Feb 2008,
  • June Gibson wrote:

Surely the BBC has the answer in its own hands. Have the powers-that-be ever heard of rescheduling? I use my VCR when programmes I want to see clash and I thought a good many other viewers would do that. Also,I have the PC to look at any Newsnight missed for the 24 hours following a programme.
There are some really duff evenings on TV. Perhaps Question Time could be moved to another day. It's difficult to sympathise when the BBC is competing against itself.

  • 31.
  • At 08:34 PM on 22 Feb 2008,
  • Noel Edwards wrote:

My problem with Iplayer is that BT use Yahoo which is American based. I am,therefore,blocked because of Copyright restrictions. Will this be solved in February?

  • 32.
  • At 09:09 PM on 22 Feb 2008,
  • Gordon Neil wrote:

1.iplayer is currently only available to those with microsoft operating systems. When is it going to be available to those of us running MACs ?

  • 33.
  • At 09:17 PM on 22 Feb 2008,
  • Martin Eric Hancock wrote:

International news

  • 34.
  • At 09:20 PM on 22 Feb 2008,
  • Peter Hughes wrote:

I am one of your 0.8-1.2 million, and a substantial contributor to your million/month, and one of those who face the Thursday evening dilemma. When I am away from the UK, I desire robust current affairs. BBC World programming is fine for reporting but weak on analysis. Broadcasting Newsnight without the fluffy bits would be ideal.

Incidentally, I was deeply disappointed when, having downloaded BBC iPlayer while in Tokyo, I discovered that I was prevented from downloading any programmes. While I was on holiday I had the time to be able to watch programmes such as Horizon, but was shut out because I was abroad. Seems back-to-front to me.

  • 35.
  • At 09:45 PM on 22 Feb 2008,
  • alan hazlewood wrote:

when will we be able to catch up via podcasting

  • 36.
  • At 10:25 PM on 22 Feb 2008,
  • Christine K wrote:

I read BBC News online and I read the Newsnight email everyday for two reasons.

1. I am interested in the British opinion of world events. It is a much more informed perspective than that of Americans.

2. I want to know more about what is going on in the world. I learn more from these two sources about world events (and sometimes USA events) than I get from the American media.

I traveled to Europe and the UK for the first time in June 2006. The most interesting thing I learned on this trip was how truly uninformed the American public is in relation to the rest of the world. I no longer want to live in the dark.

So, any stories that would address these two issues would be of interest to me. I am thrilled to hear Newsnight will now be broadcast on BBC America. Thank you! I often watch the video stream on your website.

Portland, Oregon, USA

  • 37.
  • At 11:02 PM on 22 Feb 2008,
  • John McGovern wrote:

I live in France and pay for BBC News through a yearly subscription with RealNetworks, Inc. why is it that I NOW cannot receive it on broadband ? Is this what you call progress ?

  • 38.
  • At 11:07 PM on 22 Feb 2008,
  • Dennis Steeves wrote:

I sincerely appreciate your detailed and honest rendering of by the news here in the USA as well as around the world, something here that we lack in our newscasts. I also appreciate your candid analysis of the day/weeks events as too often here it is slanted in the governments favor when I want all the facts in order to hold them accountable for their misdeeds. The recent spy satellite incident probably would have gone largely unchallenged except for your reporting that it may also have been a test of our Star Wars capability.
So Please keep up the good work of unfettered reporting and especially analysis.

  • 39.
  • At 11:09 PM on 22 Feb 2008,
  • Kerry Painter wrote:


I'm an American living in Germany and I'm a big fan of Newsnight.

My one big wish would be this: don't "tame" your show for America or the international audience. America needs to see good reporting, anchors willing to force politicians and others to answer questions, and the British journalist perspective on whatever you decide to report.

Again, don't water down your show!

Keep up the good work.


I have ONE comment, ONE concern, ONE issue: The world has many problems and everyone is aware of most of them, but when is the world going to zero in, name and tackle the ONE problem causing 99% of all other problems? Global warming must be addressed but, by itself, that will not do. What's the bottomline: HUMAN BIRTHRATES AND A GLOBAL POPULATION RUNNING AMOK. We cannot continue to fear and ignore the monster that will soon destroy us all! It won't go away. It continues growing. It needs curbing and management fast and radical. But nobody's even talking about it!

  • 41.
  • At 11:24 PM on 22 Feb 2008,
  • Ingrid Duffy wrote:

I cannot wait for Newsnight to be watchable on BBC World.
In China we are unable to access the BBC news website and it will be great to be able watch this news programme.
I just wish BBC World would bring more variety to its programming. I hope this is the start of a new trend.

  • 42.
  • At 11:27 PM on 22 Feb 2008,
  • Peter Donaldson wrote:

What on earth can justify Newsnight inviting on Alistair Campbell to advertise his novel coming out in 5 months time? Its neither news nor is itinteresting. If you are going to invite novelists on in advance of publication why not invite decent writers rather than someone who who practically tore the BBC apart in such a self seeking way just a few years ago.

  • 43.
  • At 11:39 PM on 22 Feb 2008,
  • Kip wrote:

What a nice idea. Unfortunately, tonight's episode was incomplete, since your Obama story was unavailable "for copyright reasons" and replaced by dead air. Not exactly as unmissable as I'd have hoped.

  • 44.
  • At 12:54 AM on 23 Feb 2008,
  • Glenda wrote:

I was very pleased to see an ad for Newsnight on BBC World when I was watching the channel the other day. I've been subscribing to the Newsnight email for quite a few years and I'm glad it's finally offered to international viewers too.

In terms of stories, any stories involving British foreign policy, or on British involvement in international issues would be welcome. But it would be good to see stories about how international stories and immigrants etc are viewed by British residents as well. Correct me if I'm wrong, but that's something not see as often on BBC World.

  • 45.
  • At 05:43 AM on 23 Feb 2008,
  • William Moore wrote:

I think it would be terrific if you could give us Canadians & Americans living in the USA a different and more independent view on how things are really going in Iraq. The US Media is influenced by the US Military (after the hard lessons the Army learned after allowing unfettered photo-journalism and slightly left of center reporting on the evening news during Vietnam). We otherwise learn via internet the men & women over there are enthused, and that the US media critical of the Iraq policy is pulling the wool over our eyes. Please make your Newsbroadcasts available on the web in a streamlink format, not just iPod.

  • 46.
  • At 07:11 AM on 23 Feb 2008,
  • Trevor Wilson wrote:

Great news about the one hour edition coming soon to BBC World. I am currently resident in Ukraine and depend on the BBC for most of the world news, via TV and the internet. I would like to see a mix of UK and international items, and especially some of those hard hitting interviews with senior Britsh figures (and politicians) for which Jeremy and the rest of the team are famous!!!

  • 47.
  • At 07:48 AM on 23 Feb 2008,
  • Nick Hills wrote:

Great news about the Friday compilation broadcast on BBC World from the end of February. Living in Cyprus, it will be good to renew viewing one of my favourite news programmes in the UK. Will this be just the one broadcast - or will it be repeated sometime, to allow for time differences at our end of the Mediterranean and the option of catching up at another time of the week ?

Any chance of some coverage of Cyprus issue ? With Turkey vying for EU membership, this island seems to be forgotten on news coverage. Yet we are less than 100 miles from Lebanon and not much further away from Israel and Iraq.

Look forward to seeing the programme.

Good luck and best regards

  • 48.
  • At 10:43 AM on 23 Feb 2008,
  • Elio PENNISI wrote:

Good idea!
Keep us informed.

  • 49.
  • At 11:37 AM on 23 Feb 2008,
  • Andrew Mantle wrote:

Sorry, but internationalisation to meet the desires of people overseas may for me make Newsnight eminently missable.
What I want from Newsnight is an approach to both UK and overseas news that is more in depth than in news bulletins, and done from a British perspective, presenting subjects that the British are likely to want. Obviously you'll need to include in that people of other cultures and outlook - to do otherwise would be stupid and xenophobic. But the programme should be above all demonstrably British.
I love Italian food, but any Italian restaurant that cut its Italian menu to provide Indian, North American or Chinese dishes as well wouldn't get my custom any more.
It all comes back to the old question of what is the BBC for? As most of your finance comes out of UK taxation in the form of licence fee I don't see why the content of the terrestrial channels we pay for should be influenced by popular vote from outside the UK.
The World Service is different, but even there taxpayers who help fund it via the FCO budget still have a right to expect it to have a distinctive 'Britishness'. If it doesn't, there's no good reason for having it at all

  • 50.
  • At 01:29 PM on 23 Feb 2008,
  • Bob Goodall wrote:

Hi Mr Barron

just two more possible story ideas that may interest American viewers and us alike?

- America owes China a huge amount of money, what are the options, could default lead to conflict or trade sanctions on either side?

-Could a 'Ross Perot' or a 'Ralph Nader' spring up in this years Presidential election on either side, splitting their Party vote and giving victory to the other side?

Could this potentiality be used by disgruntled elements to bring pressure on the person chosen to represent either Party?

Hope helpful

  • 51.
  • At 04:27 PM on 23 Feb 2008,
  • Tom Cobley (no, really) wrote:

"The iPlayer service is only available in the UK"

Quite so.

"but the good news for international viewers is that at the end of February we launch an international edition of Newsnight on BBC America and BBC World."

Well, that's good news, but it still doesn't help me much since I don't have a television. How much longer do us ex-pats have to wait before the BBC realises that we'd really like to use the iPlayer too, and many of us are prepared to shower Auntie with money in order to do so?

  • 52.
  • At 06:04 PM on 23 Feb 2008,
  • Jim wrote:

I don't really want a "collection of the highlights of each week's programmes".

I am perfectly capable of getting all the news; be they daily or weekly; from the BBC or others.

What I'd want is to know more about the backgrounds of the news that the BBC reports all the time; and does so adequately enough.


Now that the BBC is on the brink of world-wide hegemony perhaps it will relinquish the licence fee so poor conservative folk like me no longer have to subsidise its liberal outpourings.

Funny isn't it, how professed liberals see nothing wrong in forcing the rest of us to finance their prejudices effectively at the point of a gun?

Any chance of bringing back the audio podcast?

  • 55.
  • At 09:05 PM on 24 Feb 2008,
  • Nick Thornsby wrote:

Iplayer is available to everyone in the UK who happens to use a pc. Us second rate licence fee payers who have macs can't watch it!

Glad to see newsnight doing well though; regular viewers of 1 million is impressive.

  • 56.
  • At 12:07 AM on 25 Feb 2008,
  • Mark McKellar-Harding wrote:

re: Newsnight compile on BBC World, this is fantastic news.

I believe there is an audience for the nightly programme to be rebroadcast in its entirety.

It is a programme of rare value and one of the few things I miss since emigrating from the UK (although I try & keep an eye on it via the web of course).

I always found the Thursday night QT/Newsnight conflict difficult. I must admit I'd often tune into QT for the initial questions and depending on audience/issues of the week would drift back to Newsnight to see what was being covered by you but always felt something of a betrayal to miss it!


Mark McKellar-Harding

Lets hear more about celebs

  • 58.
  • At 09:21 AM on 25 Feb 2008,
  • seamus mcneill wrote:

First point -- please stop using "conflicted"!
Second you mention the "young" audience. Remember young people grow up. There is nothing new about the indifference of youth to politics. Read Tony Benn's diary entry for 23 October 1955. In a discussion with young people he found
"great ignorance about parliament and its work, cynicism about politicians and their sincerity, great gap between politicians and young people, no inspiration of young people by politicians, a healthy disregard of politicians' conceit.
Plus ca change.

  • 59.
  • At 09:49 AM on 25 Feb 2008,
  • Sean Girling wrote:

Will the "international" version also be available on the BBC iPlayer? (god I hate how everything gets an "i" stuck before it). I'd like to see if there is a different slant to the news. I worry about the localisation of news, and how some reports are coloured, or simply ommitted for regions. Look at the differring stories about that rather famous missing child. British media and foreign media seemed so different. But then I guess it's what sells!

  • 60.
  • At 10:22 AM on 25 Feb 2008,
  • paul wrote:

For English people living in another country the most interesting subjects are not necessarily international subjects for which there is already a lot of other coverage. What is really interesting is to stay in touch with what is happening in the UK.
Of course ideally the best solution would be to provide access to Iplayer for non UK resident so that non UK viewers can choose what they want.... (this limitation is very frustrating !!!)

  • 61.
  • At 11:05 AM on 25 Feb 2008,
  • Tom Page wrote:


All sounds like good news! Any idea when the video podcast of Newsnight will begin again? This was excellent.

  • 62.
  • At 11:53 AM on 25 Feb 2008,
  • Alex Bennee wrote:

It's a shame you need to run Windows or have a working Flash installed to be able to watch it via the iPlayer. Given Newnight is an internal BBC production it would be nice if it was more easily available without the DRM restrictions that keep the iPlayer on Microsoft platforms.

  • 63.
  • At 09:51 PM on 25 Feb 2008,
  • Diana wrote:

As someone who is really busy I think this iplayer is such a good idea. I don't watch a huge amount of telly - but it is really good to be able to watch things - that you planned to see but forgot to record/skyplus on th iplayer.

Andrew Mantle (49)

We won't be tailoring our original content for the international market - everything we do will be primarily for Newsnight proper. The decisions for the international version will be what to include from the week's coverage which will already exist.
The question then will be how to get the balance right between the international and US stories we do and the idiosyncratic British coverage

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