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Web Exclusive: The FCC Vote

Producer Peter Meryash and Correspondent Rick Karr analyze the recent FCC vote and discuss what's next:

We welcome your thoughts on the recent vote, please comment below.


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Comments

Chris (Dec.29,2007-6:54pm) asked what happens if most people prefer celebrity gossip and other drivel over useful information, and what if consolidation delivers this product best. No one has answered the question so I will.
Chris:
1. People do not normally neglect their own interests. Fear or brainwashing are necessary to make them stupid. Chris, is stupid good? They say ignorance is bliss, but isn't that only when ignorance is in the minority?
2.Lack of resistance to what you know is wrong is worse than the wrong itself. If corporate commercial interests have their way, then all alternatives are foreclosed indefinitely.
3.Education gives each one of us the ability to decide for ourselves on any issue.
The fact that the educated are in a minority only confers greater responsibility in a crisis. Informed persons act in their own and to sustain community interests. Would you, Chris, permanently surrender your ability to think critically?
*Return to point #1 and re-read until you get it, or maybe get off Moyers and go find "Britney Nude."

We want the fairness doctrine back, and I'd like to see criminal punishments for FCC directors who deliberately violate the FCC charter. It's fairly easy to tell if an FCC commissioner is a sellout - when they ignore the public comments across the country 99.998% opposed to media consolidation and then we get more media consolidation ANYWAY, obviously it's money that rules here, not people. So easy to fix with good leaders in office -- but we have to hold our breaths, and it may be too late.

We need to fix the laws such that ClearChannel, for example, is broken up into outfits no one of which owns more than 20 stations anywhere. Any jerk with money can create a monopoly; we should ONLY reward businesses that remember that humans will always have more dignity than the mere instinct for the accumulation of wealth.

See http://communityfiber.org for a model of a telecom system THE PUBLIC CAN BUILD FOR ITSELF, which will offer FASTER SERVICE THAN ANY TELCO/CABLECO and will LOCK IN NET NEUTRALITY FOREVER, apart from saving its users UP TO $1000 PER YEAR. The way to "fix" the monopolies is to DISINTEGRATE THEM to small, easily ignored units.

The sooner we build our OWN NETWORKS, the sooner we ELIMINATE the ability of monopolies to abuse us.

Slowly, piece by piece, Americans are waking up to the criminal purposes of this administration. Hopefully, Americans will wake up before the total plans of this Illuminati push for total world power is complete and unstopable. Did no one ask themselves when Bush ran against Kerry; why can't we have someone in the race for President that hasn't worshipped Mollech at Bohemian Grove?

How slick to promote everyone who COULD HAVE conducted actual investigations into the events of 9/11, into high plush positions within the "Homeland Security" department that answered directly to Dick Cheney, the only logical perpetrator with the skill, power, motive and opportunity to execute this pseudo Terror Attack. Thereby they gained the approval of the American public for his use of the U.S. Military to conquer oil producing nations and drive the price of oil to $100 a barrel.

Now that everyone sees that, how much longer will it take before they understand that it isn't even about oil profits; it is about human blood sacrifices to Satan by the Illuminati, who rule by default the whole damned world through the World Bank, Federal Reserve Bank (a privately owned bank), the Council of Foreign Relations (populated by CIA, NSA, FBI, Defense Department goons, Financial Lords, NY Times, etc.).

The religious right is but an ignorant pawn, manupilated by the Illuminati because they knew without their votes they could not have taken over America completely. Did you ask yourself why Bush sent the National Guard instead of the regular Army to Iraq? Because, they were the only people with the skills and equipment to resist an actual physical takeover of America. Now, Bush has a case before the Supreme Court in which he is the DEFENDER of citizen's right to bear arms. All he has to do to get total authority to disarm the citizens is to loose this case. How hard is it to loose a case?

Don't be afraid, be mad as hell and take action. Stop the insanity. Send these criminals to jail and don't elect anyone who has held their piece about 9/11. They are either; too dumb to hold office, accomplices, or cowards. There are no other options.

Have you wondered why none of the leading candidates will agree to remove troups from Iraq? Why all of them pretend Osama Ben Lauden is the actual perpetrator of 9/11 rather than the obvious patsy to use for authorizing foreign envasions of Afghanistan and Pakistan, eventually.

Does it take a genius to see these things? If so, you had damned well better find one and ask him about this while you still can.

Michael Couch

Freedom of the press is an essential element of freedom. Without freedom of the press, we are no longer a democracy. We have become an oligachy that is run by a few people with the wealth and power to control the government. A government of the people, for the people and by the people no longer exists.

If you think nothing is broken within the current state of consolidated TV, check this out. An article by John Hockenberry who has been there and done that http://www.technologyreview.com/Infotech/19845/page1/

Obama is way way out in front on this. And that takes guts considering it's primary season! Read about it (see point 6) and more at: http://www.dailykos.com/storyonly/2008/1/2/22840/86271/686/429523

Kevin Martin scares me...he is the epitome of facism in America. I've sent communications to the FCC repeatedly w/o one response...that's enough to remove his Appointment.

I live in Lubbock, which has minimal truth in the news, if any at all. This action will only create a far worse situation for the South Plains of Texas and skews every possible data point coming from this region.

Until Americans realize that this is their country, not a president's , nor any agency, these horrors will continue. Wake up folks.

One sure way to bring the monopoly down is to: BOYCOTT! Unsubscribe!

Yet another example of our broken government.

Bill, your program is invaluable. You will leave a huge void when you fold up your program.

Regarding the FCC Chairman; his decision was written all over his face from the beginning of the hearings, leaving a public with feelings of anger, frustration and helplessness. However, with further steps yet to be taken, this decision might still be able to be turned around.

Here is a devil’s-advocate question for anyone willing to tackle it (and also a request for how to answer those who think unlimited media consolidation and profiteering are just fine): What if the American public REALLY WANTS to immerse itself in Britney Spears’ meltdowns and O’Reilly’s pugnacity. . . NOT to hear about the war in Iraq, healthcare, social security, global warming and all that intellectually challenging and perhaps depressing stuff? And what if the ever-consolidating big media is the most efficient and profitable way to deliver the public the crap that it wants? What right have we (those who want the more serious, thoughtful stuff) to object? Does the public need us as nannies? Someone please answer!

Ken Dammand said:

"It is certainly a reasonable conclusion that allowing media companies to grow larger, in any direction, simply reduces the variety and competition underlying the mainstream media..."

But in point of fact, as the mainstream media has consolidated, the rest of the media landscape has grown and expanded to fill the void.

Never in our history have we had as many voices and options available to us.

There is far more variety available today than at any time in our history. There is far more competition available.

For example, in the 60s, there were 3 major TV networks coving news. Today, there are at least ten. Plus PBS! Plus we can receive international news via cable or the internet.

I am far more concerned about the Balkinization of American opinion than I am about media consolidation. There was a time when people were willing to listen to opposing points of view. That time has passed, and Americans prefer to find media coverage they agree with, rather than seek out media that reports the truth.

I wonder if the chairman of the FCC has a job offer in the very near future with Gannett?

Go Senator Durbin! Lets get this travesty overturned!

When did FCC Chairman Martin become the 2nd most powerful man in the US? It was very disturbing to watch the Senate Committee members ACTUALLY helpless, asking Martin, in a pitiful voice to postpone his decision. So much for public airways. Going the route of clean air, water, affordable food, assistance to the physically ill, mentally ill, uninsured children, affordable, fair & negotiated MediCare drug pricing, cutting cancer medication (Zevalin, Bexxar) reimbursement, etc, etc.

It is not new or amazing that those who are greedy and corrupt and addicted to power and wealth will grab as much power and wealth and control as possible... it is new that they act with total impunity such as this Administration and this Congress have. Is that smell the fragrance of Rome burning?

George:
I respect your opinions on this issue. You are obviously better informed than most of us “ordinary” citizens. What most of us are concerned about is that the “mainstream,” i.e. big, news sources are the only ones read by a majority of the people in our country. They have a huge influence on our democracy by virtue of their choice of what stories to cover and how extensively to cover them. To many of us who read the alternative new sources to which you refer, it already appears that profoundly bad things are happening in our country and not getting the three inch high front page coverage they deserve. Things such as the unwarranted wire tapping, which I have seen covered in the mainstream media, are allowed to essentially drop off the public radar because mainstream media does not seem to pursue the issue beyond a cursory mention. I have personally seen President Bush say that any wire tap requires a warrant and then admit that he has been conducting wire taps without a warrant since before 911. Why aren’t the mainstream media sources assembling this information and playing their part in organizing the public outrage that this nonchalant snubbing of the constitution should arouse in the American public? Maybe I’m wrong, but I’d like to think that the mainstream news media would have played that role in times past.
It is precisely this failure that makes the public reflexively oppose any further consolidation of our news sources. One can hardly help but think that motivations other than the obligation to keep the public informed underlie this failure. It is certainly a reasonable conclusion that allowing media companies to grow larger, in any direction, simply reduces the variety and competition underlying the mainstream media and makes it ever more conceivable that an important story will not be given the proper coverage because of economic or political affiliations between the media owners and the entities involved in the story. Again, despite the proliferation of alternative media such as the internet, from the stand point of democracy it is only the majority that counts. These alternative sources will probably never account for the majority of the information the public uses to determine their opinion of government or individual officials’ actions. We are all frightened to death of a news media owned by a very small cartel of people. Ultimately, of course, control of the media is control of the masses. This is our nervous system. We are understandably concerned that diversity and competition keep it working right.
Perhaps these concerns are not warranted from a strictly academic view point. Perhaps it is truly a lazy and/or hopelessly distracted American public that is the reason no effective action has yet been taken to rein in an administration that openly and obviously violates the constitution and governs in ways that harm the majority of the citizens. Perhaps. But a more consolidated media just cannot be a step in the right direction for our country. Any argument to that effect is specious and self-serving

How many people were on hand to ask the FCC for more conglomeration?! That would be zero. Apparently, Michael Martin and his ilk believe we are all so stunned by the crimes of Bush and Cheney, we would just roll over and take it again! Those days are over and if the Dems. continue their craven behavior, they'll find themselves up against tougher competition in the primaries in '08 and beyond!
Edie
Montgomery, AL

I thought that Marshall was appointed to head the FCC by none other than Bush. What a surprise?!

I thought that this country had implemented very strict anti-monopoly, anti-trust laws, way back in the early 20th century. How and why and by whom were these laws changed or rescinded and simply avoided? The purpose of restraining single large mega corporations from unregulated growing is to insure that the law of supply and demand controls the quality and prices of goods and services. Thia ia the "invisible" Machevellian arm that is the core principle of why capitalism works. So-guess what? Take away fair competition and too big business is free to maipulate the supply and quality of goods and services. Case in point; oil. Another effect is that a giant like Walmart can buy in such bulk and sell so cheaply (coupled with all the American company outsourcing of manufacturing to 3rd world countries with cheap labor)it allows them to hold off profits until they have outlasted businesses too small to compete with temporary, strategic below market pricing.
In itself this is enough argument to refute the FCC ruling regarding Media giants boundaries but the even more central issue here is one of freedom of press. And this freedom and easy access to diverse perspectives of information is crucial to the health and authenticity of a true democracy. During this current administration we have already seen many examples of the "unbelievable" occuring: an unprovoked war, justified with a lie followed by a lame excuse of faulty data. Gee, I wonder if control of oil had anything to do with an Oil Administration's decision making? Hmmm? Kuwait? Golf conflict?
Speaking of reduced freedom of press-interesting what the government learned from Vietnam. Forbid media and journalism from publishing and broadcasting photos of dead soldiers, women and children and you will reduce the protest to violence. Gulf conflict was turned into a video game with dots of light on a graph representing Scud missles poorly aimed. Wow! What a cool technology. Now murder is even further removed from our sensibilities. My friends, we are dreadfully close to the end of being the leader of the free world. Actually , we are past it. But it is never too late to start doing the right things, restorative things. Where is the voice of the vast majority of Americans? Who protects us but the press? And once the press is even further controlled by big business..where can we find the truth out? Internet regulation will be next and then a few of us will stand on soapboxes crying Armaggedon while the uninformed citisenry, and all of us in denial will walk deaf and blindly by as every thing that the USA has represented crumbles into history. Welcome to Mc America! Welcome to the United Sellers of A-more-rica! we should all be scared.

12/28/07

Baseball is much like broadcasting in the United States. The resource, spectrum in broadcasting, and apportioned fan base in baseball, are both limited. Baseball has it's anti-trust exemption and broadcasting has the FCC. The owners are pretty similar billionaires in both who demand tribute from the public. Governments are there to extract this tribute by whatever means necessary.
Players on performance enhancing drugs are no different than other glamourized (surgery, anorexia, designer wardrobes,etc,) performers who are there at the whims of their masters. Big salaries are only window dressing in an asymetrical transaction where the owners are really slavemasters running plantations. That is why when news slid toward infotainment there was such rapid deterioration. Just as the producers prefer the drug addicted, narcissistic and ignorant performer who can be manipulated and duped and baseball prefers the steroid freak, big business prefers journalistic whores. This says everything about how the public is manipulated to demand the commodities the marketers choose to provide. Soon "no child left behind" will be asking children about I-phone features and batting averages, Wait, batting averages?, haven't I heard this somewhere before?

In 2004, I happened to be in the hospital and watched the FCC hearing. Otherwise, I would have been at work and unable to experience this insult to all decency.

I have now been retired more than a year, and during this time I have been witness to many 'insults to all decency' coming from this RapeAmerica assault being committed by this Wh**e House and this Congress. This latest poke in our eyes by the FCC is certainly one of them!

I would imagine that this has been experienced by many: WE ARE NOT IN A POSITION TO SEE ENOUGH OF THE DESTRUCTION THAT IS COMING FROM OUR OWN 'GOVERNMENT' -- until we retire and have sufficient time, and left over energy, to be convinced that we are being destroyed by (what should be) our own government.

I am doing everything that I can to put a stop to this!

Sheila wrote: "The Republicans on the FCC are like the Stepford wives bent on doing the bidding of corporate powers that serve no interest other than that of their own greed." (12-21-07 post on this blog)

I could not have said it better.

does aney body rember a.t.t
it was taged as a monopley
and broken up now it is ok huh what is wrong with this

WHAT ELSE WOULD YOU EXPECT FROM HIGHLY ORGANIZED CRIMINALS?

I have testified at an FCC hearing, phoned and emailed my legislators and, in general, done everything else I could think of to make my feelings known about these issues for the past several years.
All to little avail. It only delayed the inevitable.
Martin and his Republican allies at the FCC would have their way, regardless of public sentiment.

In 2007 I began gathering web news on my city and disseminating it to my neighbors through a Yahoo Group.

I am not a journalist, nor do I want to be one, I just want news about my community and there is no other way to get it.

I live in a city of 65,000 in the San Francisco Bay Area...a city with NO newspaper dedicated to our community at all.

Sure, we have the San Francisco Chronicle, the San Jose Mercury News, and various free papers; but my Yahoo Group is the ONLY place where (hopefully) all the news about our community appears.

It shouldn't have to be that way.
I shouldn't have to be a reluctant journalist.

The situation with the FCC is a travesty. This was a huge manipulation by the big media and telcos and that is that.

We have to keep fighting this because the disabled and non-profit organizations will suffer, in addition to the minorities and women.

The fact is that the decision was not made in the best interest of the public, or taking into account the publics views. Corporate business plans for growth and profits won out over the majority public. I never saw public petitions, protests, etc. in favor of bigger media! Yes 2 sides were represented here, but not 2 public sides, only the corporation and the poeple. The people lost.

I just had a good laugh when Democracy Now reported (12/26) that Kevin Martin may run for governor of North Carolina. A close analysis of his statement (vocal tone, body language, downcast eyes)provided here by the Journal tells me that Martin did not believe any part of what he was reading in advocacy of consolodation rule relaxation. He appeared to me more like a bank teller with a gun to his head. Martin has a history of obeying lawless fascist orders in Florida (2000) and as Bush's counsel (keeping Constitution wipers blameless). Come on back to NC Kevin. We'll be waiting. (But then again, neither has big media forgotten his merecenary actions.) Maybe you'll need steroids, you Supercapitalist Clark Kent.
beretco.op@gmail.com

I have taken several hours to consider this issue in detail using the material presented here and in other articles, but my emotionality has gotten the best of me. I think Kevin Martin's presentation resembled a poor and unfunny impersonation of Stephen Colbert. He was even more transparent than the playfully obstinate Colbert in that it was plain he did not believe a word of the statements he was reading and was, in fact, sure he was committing a crime against the interests of the American public. He cannot plead "Bush administration incompetence": The man knows he is wrong and that he is a criminal. He acted as if he were a bank branch manager with a gun to his head or his family held hostage. If he is not a terrorized person then he must believe that the imposition of a thousand year fascist reich is soon to be implemented and that he will survive as one of its lower functionaries, a veritable maggot wriggling below an iron heel. There is no other viable explanation for his actions or manner.
Now that I have vented let me add that this incident fully illustrates the incompatibility of global monopoly capitalism with any attempt at democracy. You poor folks caught in your silly debates like boiling frogs, Don't you get it?!!! beretco.op@gmail.com

What can we do? I felt so betrayed by the way this turned out; I called my Senator and the Washington office; I emailed everyone I knew to sign petitions; Would it have mattered if thousands more would have weighed in on this?

Pat, it sounds like you have your mind made up too.

Study the newspaper-owned broadcast outlets that have been operating under FCC waivers. Stations like WQXR, owned by the New York Times, or WGN owned by the Chicago Tribune.

Go to small markets, like Fredericksburg VA, where the #1 radio station is owned by the local paper. These are quality radio stations that serve their markets well. Yes, they also make a profit, but not at the expense of public service.

You don't have to imagine how they'll do local coverage. It's right there in front of you. They do it every day. These newspapers run radio stations better than radio-only companies. I think the public will benefit when these companies start to compete against the current owners.

By the way, you mention "the three major papers" didn't cover the story, but I read all about it in the Washington Post. With full quotes from everyone, many of which were omited from the PBS story. I'd suggest the major papers did a fairer job of covering the story than PBS. Just my humble opinion.

Lets look at what exactly what Mr. Martin did. First look at where he came from:
He served on the Bush-Cheney Transition Team and was Deputy General Counsel for the Bush campaign. So he didn't come in without strings.
Now Mr. Martin said in his own words he had his mind made up in 2006. Ok that was evident.

Neither Mr. McDowell nor Ms. Tate posted any history on the FCC site, so we know nothing about them--just that Bush appointed them. Looked like they had their minds made up too.

If we also listen to Martin's own words--he said the he wanted to increase local coverage... Yes, I read the corporate coverage, and it was about profits and competition. Nothing was said about improving local news coverage.

So if Martin had his mind made up to improve local coverage, his actions didn't show that, and the corporate writings didn't address it.

So if we look at what it takes to get reporters out on the streets, the media would have to get reporters to do interviews and inquiries about local issues. But how local? A city council meeting of a town of about 12,000 people? But our local paper covers half our state of close to 200,000 people.

So the newspaper will have reporters for each town? Not if they want profits. Ok the newspaper will have two reporters for 10 towns? But would that include the broadcast stories? More stories for the same reporter?

Every time you give a writer more stories to cover in day, the more they will fall back on outside sources. Does anyone seriously think these reporters are going to hear the interviews, if they don't have time to get out and talk to people?

Just look at the logic... where can this possibly have anything to do with local coverage when this is pulling the reporters farther away from the local stories?

I have talked to our local McClatchy editor and he flat out said that they have to please all of their readership. They can't waste space on a narrow issue that only concerns 1000 people when their reporters have to bring in stories that will address 100,000 people.

Now where does consolidation help local coverage?

Here is another question. Why did the three major papers fail to have anything about the FCC vote? It wasn't because they were covering Dodd's stand on the floor against the Telecommunication immunity clause--because they didn't cover that either. They covered California's governor and legislator's fight on health care. Nothing about the local Iraq soldier coming home in a casket and the firemen standing on every overpass in salute.

Now where is the local coverage improving?

"I suspect that George's comment springs less from his concern over a lapse in Bill Moyers's impartiality than from his disagreement with the point of view expressed"

To Patrick:

Not really. It comes from a belief that journalism is a calling, and just because the right chooses to push their agenda on Fox, that doesn't make it right when the left uses PBS. I believe that if a point of view is right, it will stand up to having both sides presented in an objective way, rather than prejudicing an audience before they've even seen the piece.

You see, Patrick, I worked in public broadcasting for many years. I sat in editorial meetings where introductions like the one Moyers read were discussed. I'd write something, and an editor would point out that I was biasing the audience before they heard the piece, and that was wrong. I don't know if budget cuts have removed that editorial process from PBS. If so, it's too bad.

I can see that the media ISN'T consolidating, but exploding. It is growing in ways we could never have imagined. There are ways for individuals to express themselves without the organized press called a Blog. So I have no fear of something called media consolidation. It will simply lead to even more grass roots media, just as it did ten years ago.

My comment comes from 30 years in journalism. I also know the history of broadcasting and the FCC, and have taught it at several colleges. I remember what it was like when newspapers could own broadcasting. I thought you'd like to know.

What a waste--a waste of fuel used by impassioned, concerned citizens who rightfully fear for the health of our democracy, to attend meetings with Martin's FCC members--a commission that USED to work on behalf of the people. What a waste of research time and emotional energy spent on preparing themselves to plead their objections in a professional manner, only to learn that Martin and the GOP FCC members had already decided the outcome before they ever embarked on this tax payer-paid jaunt around the country under the guise of seeking "public input". What a TOTAL WASTE!

having the segments on capitalism gone wrong and the constitutions need for new and complete public participation is so perfect in relation to the actions of an FCC deaf to the very public concerns it is designed to uphold. How many of our public institutions, designed to protect and serve the people, are now being used to undo the potential of each citizen? and it is being done by our very neighbors whom we have made rich and powerful by our trust,faith and labor.

Reference: Post by T. Karr

That's what makes PBS & Bill Moyers so great to watch & listen to. They tell the TRUTH as it affects all it's citizens not just the rich & powerful

Re: George's comment, I don't believe Bill Moyers has ever claimed that the Bill Moyers Journal is a "straight news" program - on the contrary - so the criticism falls flat.

Moreover, for George to suggest that Bill's characterization is not factual is to suggest that willed naivete and historical ignorance equal impartiality. Bill's characterization is 100% consistent with the history of the consequences of the kind of deregulation Mr. Martin pushed through against all public comment, against Senate disapproval, and, most tellingly, against the very charter of the FCC.

Mr. Martin is merely another ideological face in the gallery of this administration's political hacks who are bent on ignoring the charters of their agencies and the public interest that they were designed to achieve in order both push the right-wing agenda in favor of ever larger concentrations of capital and power and to create circumstances on the ground and in the agencies themselves that a new administration will find very difficult to reverse.

I suspect that George's comment springs less from his concern over a lapse in Bill Moyers's impartiality than from his disagreement with the point of view expressed and his discomfort with Bill Moyers's plain-speaking, the very kind of plain speaking that further media consolidation threatens.

This decision was a miscarriage of the democratic process.

Martin planned this outcome more than a year in advance (and wielded his majority to make it happen on Dec. 18) despite the overwhelming public opposition to more consolidation, unanimous congressional disapproval of the process and mounds of evidence that showed how cross-ownership did nothing to benefit local communities or improve local coverage.

By ramming this decision through, Martin has become the poster child for corruption in Washington – a bureaucrat who thinks his only responsibility is to political party and corporate lobbyists.

This decision was a miscarriage of the democratic process.

Martin planned this outcome more than a year in advance (and wielded his majority to make it happen on Dec. 18) despite the overwhelming public opposition to more consolidation, unanimous congressional disapproval of the process and mounds of evidence that showed how cross-ownership did nothing to benefit local communities or improve local coverage.

By ramming this decision through, Martin has become the poster child for corruption in Washington – a bureaucrat who thinks his only responsibility is to political party and corporate lobbyists.

Moyers' intro said the vote was to "increase monopoly control over the press." That is an editorial comment on the possible result. Not straight news reporting.

The fact that newspapers CAN own broadcasting doesn't mean they WILL. And it doesn't mean they'll use that ownership in a monopolistic way.

I have read the corporate coverage of this story, and they have chosen to tell both sides. They have not used sensational and biased language to attempt to sway readers in any way. Yet your reporting makes it appear that they are the bad guys here.

The Republicans on the FCC are like the Stepford wives bent on doing the bidding of corporate powers that serve no interest other than that of their own greed. As government lies, corruptions, and iniquities increase exponentially, they are covered for an instant (if at all) by media outlets owned by the same corporations lobbying Washington powerbrokers to weaken every government agency that formerly protected the public interest. As journalism is raped by the media conglomerates, democracy disappears.

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