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Thursday, May 10, 2012

Who is Keith Rupert Murdoch?

Who is Keith Rupert Murdoch? In the media world he is known as Rupert Murdoch and is an Australian-American media mogul and the Chairman and CEO of News Corporation.Beginning with one newspaper in Adelaide, Murdoch acquired and started other publications in his native Australia before expanding News Corp into the United Kingdom, United States and Asian media markets. Although it was in Australia in the late 1950s that he first dabbled in television, he later sold these assets, and News Corp's Australian current media interests (still mainly in print) are restricted by cross-media ownership rules. Murdoch's first permanent foray into TV was in the USA, where he created Fox Broadcasting Company in 1986. In the 2000s, he became a leading investor in satellite television, the film industry and the Internet, and purchased a leading American newspaper, The Wall Street Journal.
Rupert Murdoch was listed three times in the Time 100 as among the most influential people in the world. He is ranked 13th most powerful person in the world in the 2010 Forbes' The World's Most Powerful People list.[4] With a net worth of US$6.3 billion, he is ranked 117th wealthiest person in the world.[5]

Early life

Keith Rupert Murdoch was born in Melbourne in born March 11 1931, the only son of Sir Keith Murdoch and Elisabeth Joy. At the time, his father was a regional newspaper magnate based in Melbourne, and as a result, the family was wealthy. Murdoch was groomed by his father from an early age, and attended the elite Geelong Grammar School. He later read Philosophy, Politics and Economics at Worcester College, Oxford University in the United Kingdom, where he supported the Labour Party.[6]

Start in business

When Murdoch was 22, his father died, prompting his return from Oxford to take charge of the family business; becoming managing director of News Limited in 1953.[6] He began to direct his attention to acquisition and expansion. He bought the Sunday Times in Perth, Western Australia.
Over the next few years, Murdoch established himself in Australia as a dynamic business operator, expanding his holdings by acquiring suburban and provincial newspapers in New South Wales, Queensland, Victoria and the Northern Territory, including the Sydney afternoon tabloid, The Daily Mirror, as well as a small Sydney-based recording company, Festival Records.
His first foray outside Australia involved the purchase of a controlling interest in the New Zealand daily The Dominion. In January 1964, while touring New Zealand with friends in a rented Morris Minor after sailing across the Tasman, Murdoch read of a takeover bid for the Wellington paper by the British-based Canadian newspaper magnate, Lord Thomson of Fleet. On the spur of the moment, he launched a counter-bid. A four-way battle for control ensued in which the 32-year-old Murdoch was ultimately successful.
Later in 1964, Murdoch launched The Australian, Australia's first national daily newspaper, which was based first in Canberra and later in Sydney. The Australian, a broadsheet, was intended to give Murdoch new respectability as a 'quality' newspaper publisher, as well as greater political influence.
In 1972, Murdoch acquired the Sydney morning tabloid The Daily Telegraph from Australian media mogul Sir Frank Packer, who later admitted regretting selling it to him. In that year's election, Murdoch threw his growing power behind the Australian Labor Party under the leadership of Gough Whitlam and duly saw it elected.

Building News Corporation

When the Mirror group decided to get rid of its mid-market[citation needed] broadsheet daily newspaper The Sun in 1969, Murdoch acquired it and turned it into a tabloid format; by 2006 it was selling three million copies per day.[7]
In 1981 Murdoch acquired The Times and The Sunday Times, (the papers which Lord Northcliffe had once owned) from Canadian newspaper publisher, Lord Thomson of Fleet. The distinction of owning The Times came to him through his careful cultivation of its owner, who had grown tired of losing money on it as a result of much industrial action and limited ability to publish for several months.[8]
During the 1980s and early 1990s, Murdoch's publications were generally supportive of British's Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher.[9] At the end of the Thatcher/Major era, Murdoch switched his support to the Labour Party and its leader, Tony Blair. The closeness of his relationship with Blair and their secret meetings to discuss national policies was to become a political issue in Britain.[10] Though this later started to change, with The Sun publicly renouncing the ruling Labour government and lending its support to David Cameron's Conservative Party, which soon after came to form a coalition government. Former Prime Minister Gordon Brown's official spokesman said in November 2009 that Brown and Murdoch "were in regular communication" and that "there is nothing unusual in the prime minister talking to Rupert Murdoch".[11]
In 1986, Murdoch introduced electronic production processes to his newspapers in Australia, Britain and the United States. The greater degree of automation led to significant reductions in the number of employees involved in the printing process. In England, the move roused the anger of the print unions, resulting in a long and often violent dispute that played out in Wapping, one of London's docklands areas, where Murdoch had installed the very latest electronic newspaper publishing facility in an old warehouse.[12]
The bitter dispute at Fortress Wapping started with the dismissal of 6000 employees who had gone on strike and resulted in street battles, demonstrations and a great deal of bad publicity for Murdoch. Many suspected that the Conservative government of Margaret Thatcher had colluded in the Wapping affair as a way of damaging the British trade union movement.
Murdoch's British-based satellite network Sky Television incurred massive losses in its early years of operation. As with many of his other business interests, Sky was heavily subsidised by the profits generated by his other holdings, but eventually he was able to convince rival satellite operator British Satellite Broadcasting to accept a merger on his terms in 1990. The merged company, BSkyB, has dominated the British pay-TV market ever since.
In response to print media's decline and the increasing influence of on-line journalism during the 2000s[13] Murdoch proclaimed his support of the micropayments model for obtaining revenue from on-line news,[14] although this has been criticised by some.[15]
News Corporation has subsidiaries in the Bahamas, the Cayman Islands, the Channel Islands and the Virgin Islands. From 1986, News Corporation's annual tax bill averaged around seven per cent of its profits.[16]

United States

Murdoch made his first acquisition in the United States in 1973, when he purchased the San Antonio Express-News. Soon afterwards, he founded Star, a supermarket tabloid, and in 1976, he purchased the New York Post. On 4 September 1985, Murdoch became a naturalised citizen to satisfy the legal requirement that only US citizens were permitted to own American television stations. Also in 1985, Murdoch purchased the 20th Century Fox movie studio. In 1986, Murdoch purchased six television stations owned by Metromedia. These stations would form the nucleus of the Fox Broadcasting Company, which was founded on 9 October 1986. In 1987, in Australia he bought The Herald and Weekly Times Ltd, the company that his father had once managed. By 1991, his Australian-based News Corp. had worked up huge debts (much from Sky TV in the UK), forcing Murdoch to sell many of the American magazine interests he had acquired in the mid-1980s.
In 1995, Murdoch's Fox Network became the object of scrutiny from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), when it was alleged that News Ltd.'s Australian base made Murdoch's ownership of Fox illegal. However, the FCC ruled in Murdoch's favor, stating that his ownership of Fox was in the best interests of the public. That same year, Murdoch announced a deal with MCI Communications to develop a major news website and magazine, The Weekly Standard. Also that year, News Corp. launched the Foxtel pay television network in Australia in partnership with Telstra.
In 1996, Murdoch decided to enter the cable news market with the Fox News Channel, a 24-hour cable news television station. Following its launch, Fox News consistently eroded CNN's market share and eventually became the most-watched cable news channel. Ratings studies released in the fourth quarter of 2004 showed that the network was responsible for nine of the top ten programs in the "Cable News" category at that time. Rupert Murdoch and Ted Turner (owner of CNN) are long-standing rivals.
In late 2003, Murdoch acquired a 34 percent stake in Hughes Electronics, the operator of the largest American satellite TV system, DirecTV, from General Motors for $6 billion (USD).
In 2004, Murdoch announced that he was moving News Corp.'s headquarters from Adelaide, Australia to the United States. Choosing a US domicile was designed to ensure that American fund managers could purchase shares in the company, since many were deciding not to buy shares in non-US companies. Some analysts believed that News Corp.'s Australian domicile was leading to the company being undervalued compared with its peers.
On 20 July 2005, News Corp. bought Intermix Media Inc., which held and other popular social networking-themed websites, for $580 million USD.[17] On 11 September 2005, News Corp. announced that it would buy IGN Entertainment for $650 million (USD).[18]
In May 2007, Murdoch made a $5 billion offer to purchase Dow Jones, owner of the Wall Street Journal. At the time, the Bancroft family, which controlled 64% of the shares, firmly declined the offer, opposing Murdoch's much-used strategy of slashing employee numbers and "gutting" existing systems. Later, the Bancroft family confirmed a willingness to consider a sale – besides Murdoch, the Associated Press reported that supermarket magnate Ron Burkle and Internet entrepreneur Brad Greenspan were among the interested parties.[19] On 1 August 2007, the BBC's "News and World Report"[20] and NPR's Marketplace[21] radio programs reported that Murdoch had acquired Dow Jones; this news was received with mixed reactions.


In 1999, Murdoch significantly expanded his music holdings in Australia by acquiring the controlling share in a leading Australian independent label, Michael Gudinski's Mushroom Records; he merged that with Festival Records, and the result was Festival Mushroom Records (FMR). Both Festival and FMR were managed by Murdoch's son James Murdoch for several years.

Expansion in Asia

In 1993, Murdoch acquired Star TV, a Hong Kong company founded by Richard Li for $1 billion (Souchou, 2000:28), and subsequently set up offices for it throughout Asia. It is one of the biggest satellite TV networks in Asia. However, the deal did not work out as Murdoch had planned, because the Chinese government placed restrictions on it that prevented it from reaching most of China. It was around this time that Murdoch met his third wife Wendi Deng.

Recent activities

C7 lawsuit

The subject of Murdoch's alleged anti-competitive business practices surfaced in September 2005. Australian media proprietor Kerry Stokes, owner of the Seven Network, instituted legal action against News Corporation and the PBL organisation, headed by Kerry Packer. The suit stemmed from the 2002 collapse of Stokes' planned cable television channel C7 Sport, which would have been a direct competitor to the other major Australian cable provider, Foxtel, in which News and PBL have major stakes.
Seven complained that News Corporation had abused its market power which derived from its half-ownership of the National Rugby League, half-ownership of C7's direct competitor, Fox Sports, and 25 per cent ownership of the Foxtel pay TV service. Seven wanted Justice Ronald Sackville to order News and Publishing and Broadcasting Ltd to divest their combined 50% stake in Foxtel or to sell their wholly owned Fox Sports. They argued that this would be justified because of the way in which Foxtel gave preferential treatment to Fox Sports and declined to take any rival sports channel provider on "reasonable commercial terms".
In evidence given to the court on 26 September 2005, Stokes alleged that PBL executive James Packer came to his home in December 2000 and warned him that PBL and News Limited were "getting together" to prevent the AFL rights being granted to C7.
However, Justice Sackville dismissed Seven's case on all grounds, saying that there was "more than a hint of hypocrisy" in many of Seven's claims.[22]
Recently, Murdoch has bought out the Turkish TV channel, TGRT, which had been previously confiscated by the Turkish Board of Banking Regulations, TMSF. Newspapers report that Murdoch has bought TGRT in a partnership with the Turkish recording mogul Ahmet Ertegün.
Murdoch has recently won a media dispute with Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi. A judge ruled the Italian Prime Minister's media arm Mediaset had prevented News Corp.'s Italian unit, Sky Italia, from buying advertisements on its television networks.[23]

Political activities


Murdoch's disconcerting experience with Thomas Playford in South Australia[citation needed] and his early political activities in Australia set the pattern he would repeat around the world.[24]
Murdoch found a political ally in John McEwen, leader of the Australian Country Party (now known as the National Party of Australia), who was governing in coalition with the larger Menzies-Holt Liberal Party. From the very first issue of The Australian Murdoch began taking McEwen's side in every issue that divided the long-serving coalition partners. (The Australian, 15 July 1964, first edition, front page: "Strain in Cabinet, Liberal-CP row flares.") It was an issue that threatened to split the coalition government and open the way for the stronger Australian Labor Party to dominate Australian politics. It was the beginning of a long campaign that served McEwen well.[25]After McEwen and Menzies retired, Murdoch transferred his support to the newly elected Leader of the Australian Labor Party, Gough Whitlam, who was elected in 1972 on a social platform that included universal free health care, free education for all Australians to tertiary level, recognition of the People's Republic of China, and public ownership of Australia's oil, gas and mineral resources.
Rupert Murdoch's flirtation with Whitlam turned out to be brief. He had already started his short-lived National Star[25] newspaper in America, and was seeking to strengthen his political contacts there.[26]

Acquiring American Citizenship

In 1985 Murdoch became a United States citizen to satisfy legislation that only United States citizens could own American television stations. This also resulted in Murdoch losing his Australian citizenship.[27][28]
Asked about the Australian federal election, 2007 at News Corporation's annual general meeting in New York on 19 October 2007, its chairman Rupert Murdoch said, "I am not commenting on anything to do with Australian politics. I'm sorry. I always get into trouble when I do that." Pressed as to whether he believed Prime Minister John Howard should be re-elected, he said: "I have nothing further to say. I'm sorry. Read our editorials in the papers. It'll be the journalists who decide that – the editors."[29]

United States

McNight (2010) identifies four characteristics of his media operations: free market ideology; unified positions on matters of public policy; global editorial meetings; and opposition to a perceived liberal bias in other public media.[30]
On 8 May 2006, the Financial Times reported that Murdoch would be hosting a fund-raiser for Senator Hillary Clinton's (D-New York) Senate re-election campaign.[31]
In a 2008 interview with Walt Mossberg, Murdoch was asked whether he had "anything to do with the New York Post's endorsement of Barack Obama in the democratic primaries." Without hesitating, Murdoch replied, "Yeah. He is a rock star. It's fantastic. I love what he is saying about education. I don't think he will win Florida... but he will win in Ohio and the election. I am anxious to meet him. I want to see if he will walk the walk."[32][33]
In 2010 News Corporation gave $1M to the Republican Governors Association and $1M to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.[34][35][36]
Murdoch also served on the board of directors of the libertarian Cato Institute.[37]

United Kingdom

In Britain in the 1980s Murdoch formed a close alliance with Margaret Thatcher, and The Sun credited itself with helping John Major to win an unexpected election victory in the 1992 general election.[38] However, in the general elections of 1997, 2001 and 2005, Murdoch's papers were either neutral or supported Labour under Tony Blair. This has led some critics to argue that Murdoch simply supports the incumbent parties (or those who seem most likely to win an upcoming election) in the hope of influencing government decisions that may affect his businesses. The Labour Party under Blair had moved from the Left to a more central position on many economic issues prior to 1997. Murdoch identifies himself as a libertarian, this use of the term, however, being one many would not recognize.[39][40]
In a speech delivered in New York, Rupert Murdoch said that the British Prime Minister Tony Blair described the BBC coverage of the Hurricane Katrina disaster as being full of hatred of America.[41]
In 1998, Rupert Murdoch failed in his attempt to buy the football club Manchester United F.C. with an offer of £625 million. It was the largest amount ever offered for a sports club. It was blocked by the United Kingdom's Competition Commission, which stated that the acquisition would have "hurt competition in the broadcast industry and the quality of British football".
On 28 June 2006 the BBC reported that Murdoch and News Corporation were flirting with the idea of backing Conservative leader David Cameron at the next General Election.[42] However, in a later interview in July 2006, when he was asked what he thought of the Conservative leader, Murdoch replied "Not much".[43] In a 2009 blog, it was suggested that in the aftermath of the News of the World phone hacking affair, Murdoch and News Corporation might have decided to back Cameron,[44] although there had already been a convergence of interests between the two men over the muting of Britain's communications regulator Ofcom.[45]
In 2006, Britain's Independent newspaper reported that Murdoch would offer Tony Blair a senior role in his global media company News Corp. when the prime minister stood down from office.[46]
He is accused by former Solidarity MSP Tommy Sheridan of having a personal vendetta against him and of conspiring with MI5 to produce a video of him confessing to having affairs – allegations over which Sheridan had previously sued News International and won.[47] On being arrested for perjury following the case, Sheridan claimed that the charges were "orchestrated and influenced by the powerful reach of the Murdoch empire".[48]

Private meetings with politicians

Murdoch has a history of hosting private meetings with influential politicians. Both parties describe such meetings as politically insignificant; social events, informal dinners or friendly drinks. It has however been argued that such meetings are significant because of Murdoch's exceptional influence as an international media magnate, as well as his consistent interest in and involvement with political issues.[49]

David Cameron

In August 2008 British Conservative leader and future Prime Minister David Cameron accepted free flights to hold private talks and attend private parties with Murdoch on his yacht, the Rosehearty.[50] Cameron has declared in the Commons register of interests he accepted a private plane provided by Murdoch's son-in-law, public relations guru Matthew Freud; Cameron has not revealed his talks with Murdoch. The gift of travel in Freud's Gulfstream IV private jet was valued at around £30,000. Other guests attending the "social events" included the then EU trade commissioner Lord Mandelson, the Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska and co-chairman of NBC Universal Ben Silverman. The Conservatives have not disclosed what was discussed.[51]

Kevin Rudd

On 21 April 2007, future Australian prime minister Kevin Rudd dined with Rupert Murdoch in New York, following a one-hour private meeting at Murdoch's News Corporation Building.[52]

News Limited's resources involvement and coverage, in Australia, on the 2009 OzCar affair controversy caused antagonism by Rudd. Rudd responded to a press conference question from The Australian journalist Matthew Franklin, questioning "what sort of journalistic checks were put in place" for publishing a story claiming he was corrupt without "having cited any original document in terms of this email." Although such newspapers Daily Telegraph, the Courier-Mail and the Adelaide Advertiser are owned by News Limited, it has been viewed[who?] that Murdoch's personal involvement is unlikely and "the anti-Rudd push, if it is coordinated at all, is almost certainly locally driven."[53]
Murdoch once said that Rudd is "...oversensitive and too sensitive for his own good..." regarding Rudd's response to criticism made of him by News Corporation's Australian newspapers.[54] Murdoch also described Rudd as "...more ambitious to lead the world than to lead Australia..." and criticised Rudd's expansionary fiscal policies as unnecessary: "We were not about to collapse...I thought we were trying to copy the rest of the world a little unnecessarily."[55]

Stephen Harper

Canadian Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper had lunch with Murdoch and Fox News president Roger Ailes in March 2009, but the New York City meeting was not public knowledge until the summer of 2010 when a Canadian Press reporter learned of it from filings with the U.S. Justice Department. News of the meeting sparked speculation of a politically motivated drive to bring "Fox News North" to Canada.[56]





Barack Obama

In October 2008 Murdoch biographer Michael Wolff wrote a Vanity Fair story recounting a meeting between Barack Obama, Murdoch, and Ailes at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in New York early that summer. Obama had initially resisted Murdoch's proposals for a meeting, despite senior News Corp. executives having recruited the Kennedys to act as go-betweens. According to Wolff, at the meeting Obama complained of Fox News's portrayal of him "as suspicious, foreign, fearsome – just short of a terrorist", while Ailes said it might not have been this way if Obama had "more willingly come on the air instead of so often giving Fox the back of his hand." A "tentative truce" was nonetheless agreed upon. Wolff also noted that Murdoch has met every US President since, and including, Harry Truman.[57]

Personal life


Murdoch has been married three times. In 1956 he married Patricia Booker, a former shop assistant and flight attendant from Melbourne with whom he had his first child, a daughter, Prudence, born in 1958. Rupert and Patricia Murdoch divorced in 1967.

In 1967 Murdoch married Anna Torv, a Scottish-born cadet journalist working for his Sydney newspaper The Daily Telegraph (not be mistaken for the actress Anna Torv of Fringe with the same name; the actress happens to be the elder Torv's niece). During his marriage to Anna Torv, a Roman Catholic, Murdoch was awarded the KSG, a papal honour.
Torv and Murdoch had three children: Elisabeth Murdoch (born in Sydney, Australia on 22 August 1968), Lachlan Murdoch (born in London, UK on 8 September 1971), and James Murdoch, (born in Wimbledon, UK on 13 December 1972). Murdoch's companies published two novels by his then wife: Family Business (1988) and Coming to Terms (1991); both are widely regarded[who?] as vanity publications. Anna and Rupert divorced in June 1999.
Anna Murdoch received a settlement of US$ 1.2 billion in assets.[58] Seventeen days after the divorce, on 25 June 1999, Murdoch, then aged 68, married Chinese-born Deng Wendi (Wendi Deng in Western style). She was 30, a recent Yale School of Management graduate, and a newly appointed vice-president of STAR TV.
Rupert Murdoch has two children with Deng: Grace Helen (born in New York 19 November 2001) and Chloe (born in New York 17 July 2003).


Murdoch's eldest son Lachlan, formerly the deputy chief operating officer at the News Corporation and the publisher of the New York Post, was Murdoch's heir apparent before resigning from his executive posts at the global media company at the end of July 2005. Lachlan's departure left James Murdoch chief executive of the satellite television service British Sky Broadcasting since November 2003, as the only Murdoch son still directly involved with the company's operations, though Lachlan has agreed to remain on the News Corporation's board.
After graduating from Vassar College and marrying classmate Elkin Kwesi Pianim (the son of Ghanaian financial and political mogul Kwame Pianim) in 1993, Murdoch's daughter Elisabeth, along with her husband, purchased a pair of NBC-affiliate television stations KSBW and KSBY in California with a $35 million loan provided by her father. By quickly re-organising and re-selling them at a $12 million profit in 1995, Elisabeth emerged as an unexpected rival to her brothers for the eventual leadership of the publishing dynasty's empire. But after divorcing her first husband in 1998 and quarrelling publicly with her assigned mentor Sam Chisholm at BSkyB, she struck out on her own as a television and film producer in London. She has since enjoyed independent success, in conjunction with her second husband, Matthew Freud, the great-grandson of Sigmund Freud (the founder of psychoanalysis) who she married in 2001.
It is not known whether Murdoch will remain as News Corp.'s CEO indefinitely. For a while the American cable television entrepreneur John Malone was the second-largest voting shareholder in News Corporation after Murdoch himself, potentially undermining the family's control. In 2007, the company announced that it would sell certain assets and give cash to Malone's company in exchange for its stock. In 2007 Murdoch issued his older children with equal voting stock, perhaps to test their individual levels of interest and ability to run the company according to the standards he has set.

Portrayal on television, in film, books and music

Rupert Murdoch and rival newspaper and publishing magnate Robert Maxwell are thinly fictionalised as "Keith Townsend" and "Richard Armstrong" in The Fourth Estate by British novelist and former MP Jeffrey Archer.[59]
Rupert Murdoch has been portrayed by Barry Humphries in the 1991 mini-series Selling Hitler, Hugh Laurie in a parody of It's a Wonderful Life in the television show A Bit of Fry & Laurie, Ben Mendelsohn in the film Black and White, Paul Elder in The Late Shift and by himself on The Simpsons first in "Sunday, Cruddy Sunday" and most recently in "Judge Me Tender".
It has been speculated that the character of Elliot Carver, the global media magnate and main villain in the 1997 James Bond movie Tomorrow Never Dies, is based on Rupert Murdoch. The writer of the film, Bruce Feirstein, has stated that Carver was actually inspired by British press magnate Robert Maxwell, who was one of Murdoch's rivals.[60]
In 1999, the Ted Turner owned TBS aired an original sitcom, The Chimp Channel. This featured an all-simian cast and the role of an Australian TV veteran named Harry Waller. The character is described as "a self-made gazillionaire with business interests in all sorts of fields. He owns newspapers, hotel chains, sports franchises and genetic technologies, as well as everyone's favorite cable TV channel, The Chimp Channel." Waller is thought to be a parody of Murdoch, a long-time rival of Turner's.[61]
In 2004, the movie Outfoxed included many interviews accusing Fox News of pressuring reporters to report only one side of news stories, in order to influence viewers' political opinions[citation needed]. The movie did a quick inventory of Rupert Murdoch's media holdings, indicating that his media reached approximately 3/4 of the world's population[citation needed].

Tax avoidance

In 1999, The Economist reported that Newscorp Investments had made £11.4 billion ($20.1 billion) in profits over the previous 11 years but had not paid net corporation tax. It also reported that after an examination of the available accounts, Newscorp could normally have been expected to pay corporate tax of approximately $350 million. The article explained that in practice the corporation's complex structure, international scope and use of offshore tax havens allowed News Corporation to pay minimal taxes.[62][63]

Remuneration and wealth

While CEO of News Corp. in 2008, K. Rupert Murdoch made a total of $30,053,157, which included a base salary of $8,100,000, a cash bonus of $17,500,000, stocks granted of $4,049,988, and no options.[64] According to the 2010 list of Forbes richest Americans, Murdoch is the 38th richest person in the US and the 117th-richest person in the world, with a net worth of $6.2 billion.[65]

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