Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Shanghai International Circuit, 2014

Fans reveal state of F1 television coverage worldwide

2014 F1 seasonPosted on | Author Keith Collantine

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Shanghai International Circuit, 2014It’s a measure of how desperate Bernie Ecclestone is to stem F1’s falling TV audiences that he brooked no contradiction while demanding knee-jerk changes to the rules over the winter.

His initiative to award double points for the last race of the season was pilloried by F1 fans, yet remains in the rule book for this year at least.

All manner of gimmicks have been tried over the years as F1 tried to woo TV audiences. But the gross unfairness of double points – which even Ecclestone cannot deny – represented a new low.

Absent from the panic-stricken quest for ratings has been any suggestion that Formula One Management’s approach to F1 broadcasting might also be to blame for the fact that fewer people are watching. For obvious reasons, it’s a subject which won’t get much coverage in F1 television broadcasts.

And yet audiences have inevitably suffered most in countries where F1 had historically enjoyed strong viewing figures until free-to-air F1 broadcasts were replaced by pay-per-view.

In the UK, where an annual F1 subscription now costs over £500 per year, even Lewis Hamilton’s romp to victory in China couldn’t stop viewership falling to its lowest level in seven years.

F1 Fanatic readers from around the world compiled information on the availability and cost of watching Formula One. The data reveals significant variation in the quality and extent of F1 coverage:

While countries like Australia, Brazil and India still enjoy free-to-air F1 broadcasts, full-year subscriptions in other countries can run to hundreds, even thousands of pounds.

Is this the shape of things to come or a failed experiment? That depends on whether those running F1 believe the money offered by pay-per-view broadcasters is worth the trade-off of smaller audiences, and accept F1’s global reach will never be quite what it was.

The other aspect of F1’s broadcasting future is the readiness with which it accepts new media. While some sports have taken advantage of the opportunities presented by the sport to sell its coverage directly to fans, FOM has largely avoided doing so.

However some bespoke video content has been created for the current version of the official F1 app, and a new offering has been promised in the near future.

In the meantime many broadcasters have been slow to embrace the opportunities offered by new media. However some offer the means to watch online and via apps.

In countries where pay-per-view subscriptions are the only alternative, some broadcasters permit access to these online services at a reduced price. In Mexico free online broadcasts of every race are available courtesy of Telmex, who backed drivers Sergio Perez and Esteban Gutierrez.

Other countries are still yet to catch up with past innovations. Formula One took until 2011 to offer high definition race coverage, but three years later it remains unavailable in some regions. In others standard definition broadcasts are offered as a cheaper alternative.

The quality and value-for-money of F1 coverage worldwide varies enormously. While that is the case, it is unwise for the sport to change its rules so hastily in an attempt to win greater audiences.

Merely making coverage of its races available at a reasonable price in the first race would be sufficient for many fans.

Country Channel Races Qualifying Practice Annual cost Online coverage Notes Contributors
Australia Ten All All Australia only Nil Ten Play Qualifying is shown live on One in high definition, races on Ten in standard definition. @Mwyndo7, @Pezlo2013, @Plushpile, @Fitzroyalty
Belgium La Une/La Deux All All Belgium only Nil Non-live catch-up internet coverage @Force-Maikel, @Ardenflo, @Backwards
Belgium Telenet All All No €197.40 24-hour channel access available for €9.95 @Force-Maikel, @Ardenflo, @Backwards
Brazil TV Globo All All No Nil n/a @Pandanet
Brazil Sport1/2/3 Delayed Delayed Yes £157.81 n/a @Pandanet
Chile Fox Sports All All All £84 Fox Play Same package is available for free in neighbouring countries. @Alonsomanso
Czech Republic Nova All All Most Bahrain, Canada, USA and Brazil on Fanda; qualifying and practice on Nova Sport @Thaischumi
Denmark TV3+ All All All £356.00 Cinemas screen some races live for £10. @Palle
Finland MTV Max All All All €239.40 MTV F1 Online-only F1 package available for €89.95. @RetardedF1sh
France Canal+ All All All €478.80 My Canal Cheaper €298.80 option omits some sessions @Gonde
Germany RTL All All No @Klon
Germany Sky Deutschland All All Yes €562.80 Additional charges for HD subscription @Klon
Germany Sport 1 Delayed Delayed Delayed @Klon
Greece OTE TV All All All €20 n/a @Sigman1998
Greece Alpha TV Some live, rest delayed No No Nil n/a @Sigman1998
Hungary M1 All All Hungary only Nil Telesport @Hunocsi
India Star Sports 4 All All All Nil Star Sports Year’s subscription for online coverage costs £5.01. Standard definition only. @FabF1, @Akshay
Italy Sky All All All €358.80 Additional charges for HD subscription and on-demand viewing. @Fixy
Italy RAI Nine live, rest delayed As races As races RAI TV World @Fixy
Latvia Viasat Sport Baltic All All All €178 n/a @Girts
Lithuania Viasat Sport Baltic All All All £150 n/a @Osvaldas31
Lithuania TV6 Delayed No No Nil @Osvaldas31
Mexico Fox Sports Latin America All All All €120 n/a @Mantresx
Mexico Foro TV (Televisa) All (delayed) No No Nil (some regions) n/a @Mantresx
Mexico Telmex All All All Nil Escuderia Telmex Online only, low resolution. @Mantresx
Netherlands Sport 1 All All All €300 Sport 1 @Npf1
Netherlands Veronica Canada and USA live No No @Npf1
New Zealand Sky Sport Yes Yes Yes NZ$1,000-1,200 Sky NZ account required @Jarred-Walmsley
Peru Fox Sports All All All $360 Additional charge for channel which carries practice sessions. @OmarR-Pepper
Poland Polsat Sport All All All €180 n/a @ArtAnonim
Portugal SportTv All All All €636 @Mcangueiro
Russia Russia2 All, some delayed All No Nil Russia2 @Olegryzhikov
Russia Sport1 All, some delayed All All £360 @Olegryzhikov
Slovakia TV Dajto/TV Markiza All All No Nil n/a @Milansson
Slovenia TV SLO 2 All Most live No Nil @Enigma
Spain Antena 3 All All All Nil Atres Player Also TV3 (Catalonia only) @Karmen
Spain Movistar TV All All All €600 @Karmen
Switzerland SRF2 All All No Nil @Rigi
Tunisia BeIn Sport All All All €250 BeIn Sport @Tifoso1989
United Arab Emirates BeIn Sports All All All £1,512 n/a @GeeMac
United Kingdom BBC Nine live, rest delayed As races As races Nil iPlayer A TV licence is required to view live all television programming in the UK. @Keithcollantine
United Kingdom Sky All All All £522 Sky Go A TV licence is required to view live all television programming in the UK. 24-hour channel access available via Now TV for £9.99 (http://www.nowtv.com/sports). @Keithcollantine
United States NBC Sports Network All Most live FP2 only Varies, c. $720 NBC Sports Live Extra @Lord-Stig, @US_Peter, @Grosjean0817

Notes on the data

Channel data compiled with the assistance of @Mwyndo7, @Pezlo2013, @Plushpile, @Fitzroyalty, @Force-Maikel, @Ardenflo, @Backwards, @Pandanet, @Alonsomanso, @Thaischumi, @Palle, @RetardedF1sh, @Gonde, @Klon, @Sigman1998, @Hunocsi, @FabF1, @Akshay, @Fixy, @Girts, @Osvaldas31, @Mantresx, @Npf1, @Jarred-Walmsley, @OmarR-Pepper, @ArtAnonim, @Mcangueiro, @Olegryzhikov, @Milansson, @Enigma, @Karmen, @Rigi, @Tifoso1989, @GeeMac, @Lord-Stig, @US_Peter and @Grosjean0817.

To contribute, amend or correct the data please post a response via the link.

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150 comments on “Fans reveal state of F1 television coverage worldwide”

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  1. Over here in Colombia, I don’t pay for F1 coverage in the same way I don’t pay for the Champions League or the World Cup (by way of Fox Sports, ESPN, etc). Everything is already covered by the channels in my standard cable package, even if you have to pay more for HD. For the amount of money an F1 subscription costs in some countries, I could literally fly all the way to a nearby GP (say, Brazil or USA or Canada), watch it live, and then come back.

    FOM seems to be begging to start losing numbers to online piracy and streaming as bandwidth costs and speeds become better.

  2. Same With me

    1.What country are you in (and state, if applicable)
    2. Which channels broadcast F1 near you?
    BeIn Sports
    3. Do they show all the races live or only a limited number (if so, how many?)
    All live
    4. Do they also show qualifying live?
    5. Do they also show practice sessions live?
    6. If they are a subscription channel, what does a full year’s subscription cost (excluding limited time offers)?
    AED 936/Year
    7. Do they broadcast coverage online? If so please post link/s
    Not sure
    8. Please supply any other relevant information such as alternative viewing options

  3. I’ve been watching F1 continuously since 1984 and this is the first year that my interest has dropped so precipitously. My reasons include the following; (many of which have been stated by others prior in this thread);

    – V6 engines. F1 has, for me, become too effeminate. Racing means big power, not fuel economy. Bring back V10’s and V12s- better yet- let teams install whatever power plant they wish within fuel and weight rules. I get energy recovery- but V6’s have no place in big league racing.

    – The drivers are too sanitized. Long gone are the great characters of F1 like Senna, Mansel, and Prost. Driver interviews are to me, very boring. Nothing of real consequence is stated and not worth watching.

    – The rules have made the racing artificial. Tire conservation has been important for years, but it’s gone too far now for me. Double points at the last races is unacceptable to me.

    – The current U.S. TV broadcasters are nowhere near as good as Varsha, Hobb’s and Matchett were.

    – Expensive live events. I live not too far from the Austin track, and have attended Montreal, Indy, and Austin. Simply far too expensive for what you get. The average guy can’t get within 1,000 feet of the garages. If you attend an NHRA drag race, you can walk open pits and have your shirt nearly blown off when the nitro cars are test fired in the pits. You can routinely meet drivers and crew members. Pretty cool. And all that for a fraction of an F1 live experience.

    – MotoGP coverage by subscription is vastly more entertaining for me. For about $100 USD, you get every practice, excellent commentary, many interviews, the race is a two hour live stream, the video quality is excellent, and the racing is close and exciting among the top runners. Rossi, Marquez, Lorenzo, and others are interesting to listen to. Other video features are available as well such as tech reviews and etc. And, I can watch it any time I wish with DVR features.

    Many thanks for having this excellent forum. It’s my hope that F1 can return to the greatness it once had, but the longer term trajectory seems pretty clear to me. Every party ends at some point.

    1. – The current U.S. TV broadcasters are nowhere near as good as Varsha, Hobb’s and Matchett were.

      I’m curious about this statement because Hobbs, Matchett and Buxton are still there even after the coverage switched channels last year (from Speed to NBCSN). Varsha moved on, which was a bummer, but I think Diffey has been perfectly fine in his place.

      I really like NBCSN’s presentation of F1 but I am very worried about how dedicated their coverage will be once NASCAR joins the channel in 2015. There’s only so much TV time available to cover NASCAR, F1, Indycar AND the Premier League on the same weekend…

    2. But power has barely dropped, and did V6s not have a place in the ’80s? Or in current top-flight prototypes? Or Indy?

      1. It is not the amount of power, it is wat is done in F1 it self.
        It is now all FIA controlled artificial racing. Since Senna died they went in to panic mode, every thing had to be extremely save and speed had to be controlled. Result cars can not overtake without artificial things like DRS only place a team can innovate is the airo package and as soon as they find something it is banned the next race if not next season. And people think wonder why F1 is so expensive.

        I say set the basics of the car like dimensions, minimum or maximum fuel cell size, maximum amount of fuel (only way correct way to some environmental thinking, specify the safety parameters that a car must comply to, and then let the teams figure it out.

        If they think that they can make the fastest car with a V12 and some energy recovery stuff or an V8 without who cares ! It will give different concepts and probably lots of surprises instead of 24 basically the same cars with a slightly differently tweaked airo package.
        That is what made F1 great.
        – Senna stuck in an gravel trap and hey that darn williams turned into a terrain wagon and drove out of it. Active suspension surprise !
        – McLaren blew engine in Australia in a big plum of blue smoke. First time the cooling was highly pressurised so boiling point of the (special) cooling liquid was raised. Surprise !!
        – Alesi that suddenly in a b-rated car started to pass everyone. High nose introduced Supprise !!!
        -2001 Ferrari introduce the exhaust exit via the side pods for airo dynaminc efficiency used by all teams for many years Supprise !!

        Now everything is controlled.
        – fuel amount (okay) , fuel flow
        – mandatory different tyre types, designed to have certain drop of curve to “make” the race exiting.

        All resulting in that a team cannot do what they should in F1 class racing.
        Make a car drive as fast as possible only limited by:
        – what fast they can make the car
        – what the tyre manufacture can squeeze out of the tyre
        – what the track (conditions) allows you to <- safety car because it is to wet?? Nonsense !!
        – how fast a driver dares to go.

        1. I say set the basics of the car like dimensions, minimum or maximum fuel cell size, maximum amount of fuel (only way correct way to some environmental thinking, specify the safety parameters that a car must comply to, and then let the teams figure it out.

          And this would be just as expensive if not more so, widening the gap between the teams even further.

          1. @raceprouk, and yet the disorganised rabble that was F1 before Bernie made it “profitable” managed almost exactly that scenario, you only need to substitute maximum engine size for max. fuel.

          2. No difference with what is happening now.
            Every rule change the little can not follow big teams in development times so they always be a back runner make no money what so ever.

            The sport is expensive it always was it always will be, if you want it cheap make standard cars and let them only modify little things as in indycar.
            But then you will loose ferrari mercedes etc very quickly.

        2. Don’t get me wrong, artificial overtaking annoys me too, but DRS is hardly linked to safety after the death of Senna.

          And although there are probably too many controls these days, F1 would become even more of a spending war if too many were taken away. There is no easy answer that I see to that unfortunately (although selectively reducing the controls, as you said wit engines, might be possible in moderation).

          1. It is related.
            Due to safety the rules have changed that now nearly all down force is generated by airo, and no longer mechanical grip. Result they no longer can slip stream to overtake, solution artificial overtaking by DRS.

  4. I have answered for the Philippines. :) As a sidenote, Fox Sports provides F1 coverage for the entire Southeast Asian region, but prices vary per country (and cable operator).

  5. Chris (@tophercheese21)
    6th May 2014, 14:48

    If Bernie does lose his job, I sincerely hope that these subscription packages that are ludicrously expensive are scrapped, or atleast let Free-to-air receive every race live in HD. F1 has really shot itself in the foot with this. They allow only paying viewers to see all the action, and then they wonder why their viewing figures drop, so they then try to implement cheap gimmicks in a bid to spruce up the ‘show’ only to actually ruin the sport.

    Here in Australia I count myself lucky that it’s remained on free-to-air tv, only because Lachlan Murdoch is majority owner of Channel 10, so we get the Sky Coverage (minus pre and post race stuff). However we do get ad breaks, which is just terrible because you often miss crucial moments.

  6. It’s expected because in the home of F1 (Britain), viewers need to pay to watch, while in every single country in Asia and the USA broadcast it for free, with FP1, FP2, FP3, Quali & of course race. And we get several channels here where I live and as a result, I get commentary from local channels, as well as Sky commentary. Not much of a surprise when you consider this!

  7. As a Finn, I have been subscribing to MTV3’s pay-channel(s) ever since they moved away from FTA at the start of the 2007 season. However, while initially the PDTV package was priced at just 110€/year, this year I could not be bothered to pay almost twice that amount, so I decided to go for the online route (89€). So far, I have been pretty happy with the service, and I could definitely see something like that being much more common in the future. While some “exclusive” content what the F1 App offers is not really to my taste, I would be glad to pay a basic fee for a HD world feed stream, and I think many others would do so as well.

  8. As the numbers fall, however, the powers that be continue to pinpoint the wrong places where they believe F1 is going wrong. Maybe the finale isn’t enough of a climax! Let’s double the points! Casual fans only care about overtakes, no matter how artificial it is! Let’s put even more DRS zones in!

    Whilst we’re at it, let’s charge people way above what they can afford to witness all of this… and still, I can’t quite figure out why no one is tuning in…

    1. Rucknar (@superted666)
      6th May 2014, 17:02

      “The race, which aired exclusively live on Sky Sports F1 from 07:00 to 10:30, averaged 681k (11.2%), which compares with 622k (8.4%) and 547k (7.4%) respectively in 2012 and 2013 for their shared coverage. BBC One’s highlights averaged 2.87m (21.1%) from 14:30, bringing a combined average of 3.55m.”

      You are of course correct, Sky’s viewing figures are in-fact up for the GP YOY despite being compared with shared viewing figures.

  9. If F1 had gone to pay-per-view one year earlier in my country, I would not have discovered F1.

    I have no means to access F1 in an “official” way.

    If there was some reasonable HD online service at reasonable price from my preferred broadcaster, I might consider, but there isn’t even an unreasonable one to consider.

    If FOM don’t make a move to have F1 content easily and mostly freely available on the internet, F1 will continue falling behind. This humongous problem plus the recent track record of lagging behind seems quite ironic, if not sad, for a sport that advertises itself for the highest, newest and best…
    No, in terms of broadcasting, not even slightly.

    Another thing to mention, I have not watched any TV for over 6 years. And neither have most of my friends and the people I know, if you discount forced viewing at family gatherings such as Christmas and New year. Sure, many of these people have TVs, but they are not used in the “old way”, it would be more appropriate to call them large monitors. Each of them access media services daily and now the newest happenings, watch their favorite programs and sports, but never through regular or pay-per-view television services.

  10. Reading the article from F1 broadcasting above, Sky’s figures for the Chinese GP are UP 20% for 2014 and that figure for Sky alone is greater than the combined BBC/Sky figures for 2013? How does that represent a “panic stricken request for ratings” ? The fall of from BBC viewers of free-to-air coverage is being outweighed by higher figures from Sky, looking at the Chinese GP numbers.

  11. Our coverage here in the US has gone from mediocre to unwatchable.

    It started with Fox/Speed, but has only gotten worse with NBCSN and their F1-101 (aka F1 for Idiots) coverage trying to lure in channel-surfing soccer moms with low/no motorsports IQ (or worse, casual NASCAR fans). The gimmicks don’t help either (e.g. tire compounds and DRS namely) since the commentators seem to be forced to explain them multiple times during each broadcast in the most simplistic terms, while not going off-script and ignoring many compelling aspects of the race.

    My Tivo is still set to record the NBCSN broadcasts, but I typically go into media blackout mode until I can grab the SKY / BBC coverage off the interwebs instead.

  12. sidecar_jon
    6th May 2014, 16:22

    I watch the BBC coverage and thats it, as a “sport” that is based on sponsorship (advertising) i don’t understand why they are not moving heaven and earth to get F1 in front of as many eyes as possible, instead hiding it in pay to view packages of crippling cost. I recognize the cars by their advertising liver fer cri’sake …why do u want to pay to be advertised at more!

    1. Completely agree!

  13. @keithcollantine You used the wrong link for the telmex website, That’s what you see when you visit from another region.
    Try this one, is better as is it gives more info on live streams, coming races, etc:

  14. oh yeah for my its dificult to see F1 in Mexico because im not a Telmex internet user, anyways where i live there is a Italian Restaurant that opens at any time the race starts, almost every time is from 3am to 7am, theres some others ways to follow F1 if yo have a basic TV package (20 dollars/month) you have Fox Sports that is a pretty nice, the host ( ‘comentador’ i dont know the word in english ) of the race in Fox Sports know about F1, there is another channel called TDN… if you cross with TDN as a casual watcher you change the channel in 5 minutes because they dont know what is happening they dont know the rules they confuses names of the drivers much more than normal, at the end ther are like seeing another race, is annoying. The funny thing is that when the race is on TV the guys of the italian Restaurant always say to me !!! the race is in the tv !!! , while im in the live timing like crazy looking at numbres. Yeah they should put some other people in the TDN channel…. hahaha.
    So well my point is that in order to have new people watching F1 you also need good transmisions with the guys of the TV explaining some things DRS, TYRES, ERS etc… during the race in case that somebody is new and not to have football people narrating F1 with no knowledge.

    1. @alan1oo1 oops, I didn’t know that you have to be a telmex customer to watch the races (I didn’t notice because I am one hehe).

      Good to know about TDN but the way you describe it I think is the same televisa broadcast and commentators they’ve used for years now on ForoTV and yes it’s pretty bad, even so, you should add it to the list as well.

      1. foroTV is like 300 % better than TDN thats bad is it.

  15. £500 in the UK? That’s a little misleading because it’s actually the price of a full Sky Sports sub, and therefore offers a lot more besides f1. I use Now TV for the ten grands prix not live on the BBC, at £10 a time. All perfectly legal, for a hundred quid a year. That said, putting it behind a pay wall is the reason for falling viewer figures in the UK, so I agree with the points being made.

    1. It is not misleading, that is the minimum price if you want to subscribe to Sky’s F1 channel. I’m sure your point about other channels being included in that price applies to other broadcasters on the list.

      And the Now TV pricing option is also mentioned in the table.

  16. Formula 1 is not “free to air” in India. It needs a cable subscription as F1 is broadcast on Star Sports. But television subscription in India just happens to be ridiculously cheap. A complete subscription package with movies/sports/music/reality/Regional stuff…etc cost about 4500INR ( 40 GBP) per year.
    People usually say it is free to air because even the cheapest subscription(15 GBP per year) includes plenty of sports channels among which F1 also happens to be broadcast.
    Sorry if the subscription rates makes people jealous. :p

  17. Here in Argentina, we have great F1 coverage (commentators do not enter this category).
    It’s for free with the ‘standard’ package in DirecTV for aprox u$s 30.

  18. FOM really need to relax their copyright rules on Youtube. I can’t watch Indycar for free in the UK but I watch Youtube uploads of the races. Unfortunately, one of the channels on Youtube that I used posted a video of this one Indy car race from nineteen eighty something, which happened to have a 30 second update from the F1 race that had been on that weekend. The channel was blocked from Youtube. It wasn’t even an F1 race!

    “I am a viewer of Indycar from a country where I cannot easily access the races. I found videos of last years races and enjoyed them. I would now consider myself to be a big fan and I like to keep updated on Indycar news via their website …..”

    Just for a moment, take the time to replace ‘Indycar’ with ‘F1’ in that last paragraph.

    The modern, young audience that F1 would like to attract don’t often sit on the sofa to watch TV. They have mobile phones and tablets that they can do that on. Why do FOM think that double points will attract more viewers (everybody can see that that is just not fair or sporting and this in a sport started by gentlemen racers!), when it is accessibility that will do that.

    Clearly FOM are out of touch with their targeted audience. Maybe F1 could try the Indycar approach: allow some race videos on youtube (or at least extended highlights) = more fans.

  19. I tend to torrent race weekends. I have a Sky sub, and Sky Go, but its still an incredibly limited service. The whole point of such a system is to allow anytime viewing, but Sky Go still works on a daily TV schedule, so I have organise my time around that, which is utterly pointless. I’m much happier when BBC does the coverage for the weekend for the single reason that I am able to watch full race and quali anytime afterwards (or whatever arbitrary length of time they deem fit to keep it on their servers for). So if its a Sky weekend, I’m torrenting the day after; BBC, I’m watching some time later that day. I’m also currently downloading the entire 2008 season, something I’d happily pay 50 quid a year for the privilege of. 2/3 disc blu ray set anyone?

    But I dont believe this is at all the problem. Almost every part of the sport is warped in some way, and all anyone wants to see is people racing. We can all have a good time and laugh at these side stories, the political issues, the culture of the sport, but those are the things that make the sport seem murky, elitist, and unfashionable. DRS, double points, points on licenses, expensive tickets, red tape, spygate, fixed races, team orders, pay to drive, crooks and crybabies, and a seeming disregard for the future of any team that isn’t red bull, ferrari or mercedes. It’s no wonder that people feel disillusioned about the sport, and none of it, none of it at all has anything to do with what happens on track. The most immediate remedy is for Bernie to step down, just for the sake of his dignity and that of the sport, and maybe get someone in there that isn’t an egomaniacal halfwit and appreciates the other side of what makes any sport great: the fans.

  20. I don’t know what MotoGP has in regards to cable provider contracts, but their online package is as thorough and accessible as it can be – F1 should adopt a similar model to gain even more widespread reach.

    Not only do you get all races/practices/qualifying live with the MotoGP subscription, but they also let you go back and watch races from 1992 onwards. The new material gives you multiple camera angles, and you can even mute the commentator track and listen to just the engine/track sounds.

    They did it right – F1 needs to catch up to the times and the digital age.

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