Friday August 2, 2019

Nine news boss Darren Wick on Nick McKenzie, Crown & critics

• Nine promising more to come from The SMH & Age journalists

By James Manning

It wasn’t the most-watched show of the week, and it didn’t attract the biggest 60 Minutes overnight audience of the year, but the impact of Nick McKenzie’s 60 Minutes report on Crown Casino has been far-reaching.

A key player in bringing the report to TV was Nine’s national head of news and current affairs Darren Wick.

Talking to Mediaweek about the episode and the team behind it, Wick told us:

“Nick McKenzie’s curiosity and his enthusiasm for the job, which is what makes great reporters, is second to none.

“What 60 Minutes did is team Nick with Grace Tobin who is an outstanding producer who won a Walkley for reporting the Matthew Leveson case and wrote a book on it. The two of them jelled and when you get a reporter and a producer who click together it is a good thing for a program, whether it be 60 Minutes or A Current Affair. They feed off each other with ideas and energy and they find the way to get the story when doors are shut.”

Nine’s news brands are excited to be able to work with their new colleagues from the former Fairfax titles, said Wick.

“After the merger we had always talked about working with The Age and The SMH who have a tradition of working with Four Corners. We thought that was a space we could be playing in with 60 Minutes.”

Wick said the Nine executives helping drive the partnership included Nine publishing’s group executive editor James Chessell, 60 Minutes EP Kirsty Thomson and Nine group CEO Hugh Marks. “Everyone was interested in how it would work. The Age and The SMH have had a lot of success with Four Corners and the journalists might have been anxious with us. Nine and the newspapers wouldn’t traditionally have the same audience, but we feel it worked out very well.

“There will be learnings for both sides and a bunch of us will sit down together next week and review how it went.”

Making the Crown Casino investigation a 60 Minutes’ episode was better than producing it as a standalone special, said Wick. “The 60 Minutes brand is stronger than a standalone special. It is also good to show that 60 Minutes can do things bigger and better than Four Corners.”

Perhaps the most criticism that was levelled at Nine in relation to the Crown story was the way the channel promoted it with what some thought was an over-the-top promo. “The promo is to get people in,” explained Wick. The TV news boss said he has had questions about those promos from both outside and inside of Nine.

Remember you are talking to a former executive producer of A Current Affair. As long as the promo was accurate it was fine. I don’t worry about the criticism too much. People knock things for the sake of it and then it becomes click bait for online news outlets. If the phones had gone into meltdown with complaints we would have worried about it. They didn’t, it was the usual noisy knitting brigade on social media.”

Does Nick McKenzie have a career ahead of him on TV? “Nick’s got any career ahead of him if he wants it. He’s very talented. Nick’s not just good at his job, he’s a good person and a good fit culturally for the group.

Wick said McKenzie has other stories he will be working on too. “And it won’t just be Nick, we are also working with journalists Richard Baker, Adele Ferguson and Kate McClymont. And not just for 60 Minutes.”

Mercado on TV: Nine’s new Pearl Bay and ABC’s new-age Les Norton

SeaChange returns on a new network (Tuesday on Nine) with a new Pearl Bay after the location moved from Victoria to northern NSW, which is slightly disconcerting at first, because who can’t still picture that town in their heads, despite it not being on TV for nearly two decades?

By Andrew Mercado

The good news though is Brunswick Heads looks terrific and tropical (sorry Barwon Heads) and it’s so seamless, somebody should investigate if the local fish co-op closed its doors just so this show could move in and take over.

In one of those amazing TV coincidences, both Laura (Sigrid Thornton) and Bob Jelly (John Howard) return to town, after long absences, on the same day, and literally bump into each other. I don’t remember these characters being so over the top, and next to the laconic (scene-stealing) Kev (Kevin Harrington), they come across a bit cartoonish at first, but both settle down by the second episode.

SeaChange is a bit clunky as it tries to fill in all the gaps, but viewers are forgiving of anything if they love the show enough. After all, if a soap villain can be buried alive, dug up as a rotting corpse, and still come back from the dead to cheers from fans (The Freak is back!), then Pearl Bay, which was always a wackier and more off-kilter place than Wentworth, can do whatever it likes.

Directed by Wayne Blair, who also plays a local radio DJ (a la Northern Exposure), new cast members like Brooke Satchwell, Dan Wylie, Katrina Milosevic and Darren McMullen, get off to a good start. Let’s hope though that there is more in store for Heather Jelly who still comes across as a one-note wimpy wife. After Kerry Armstrong’s blistering and multi-faceted guest role on Neighbours, let’s hope she gets to show another side or two here too.

Les Norton (Sunday on ABC) is another show that has had to re-jig its past so its plays better today. Just as SeaChange is now noticeably more diverse, the original Les Norton novels have been toned down and brilliantly re-worked for a modern audience. Some purists may jump up and down but I reckon the “new age” Les (played by newcomer Alexander Bertrand), backed by another incredible Aussie cast (David Wenham, Rebel Wilson, Hunter Page Lochard etc), is a winner.

Corruption is an ongoing theme in SeaChange and Les Norton and it is also at the heart of The Boys (Amazon Prime). For anyone sick to death of Marvel movies, this is the perfect antidote to skewer an overworked genre. A ruthless corporation (led by Elizabeth Shue) pimps out superheroes (including Outrageous Fortune’s Antony Starr) to cities, but behind the capes and costumes, the good guys can be very bad. The Boys is startlingly violent and deeply cynical, but in a world where Sunrise has to apologise after demonising their core audience as “dole bludgers”, is it any wonder we want larger than life heroes to save us, or seachanges to escape to?

Australian Open
Nine’s new-look Summer of Tennis with more for viewers, advertisers

• Viewers: 2 channels + 9Now Advertisers: More TV, digital & print

At a function in Melbourne the same day Tennis Australia launched the Australian Open 2020, Nine has revealed plans to build on the success of its 2019 tennis coverage with an expanded cross-platform slate featuring the new ATP Cup, which will premiere as the lead-in to the Australian Open.

These are the highlights from Nine’s presentation about what it hopes will be good news for viewers and advertisers:

Nine will use the 9Gem multi-channel to expand its coverage of the 2020 Australian Open and ensure TV viewers have greater choice over the games they watch. This expanded free-to-air coverage is in addition to 9Now carrying every game of the tournament live.

Nine will also be home to the new ATP Cup, a men’s tournament between competing nations, which will feature 24 teams and have the highest prize money outside of a major grand slam.

This year’s summer of tennis will start in November with world no. 1 Ash Barty leading Australia in the final of the Fed Cup, followed by the Davis Cup finals from Spain. Then the Brisbane International, Hobart International and then Adelaide International – together with the ATP Cup – all leading into the Australian Open.

“Last year more than 14.4 million Aussies tuned in to our Summer of Tennis,” said Tom Malone, Nine’s director of sport. “In 2020 it will be even bigger. We will again bring a dynamic broadcasting approach to what is an unmissable festival of summer – delivering the matches, atmosphere and fun to Aussies to appeal more deeply to every type of fan, all the way from the fanatic to the festivalgoer.

“Not only we will have an additional two days of coverage on 9Gem, showing more matches on linear TV than in 2019, this is part of our expanded coverage which will capitalise on the great lead-in offered by the ATP Cup. This will build national momentum in the run-up to the hugely successful Australian Open.”

Nine will offer commercial partners new ways of integrating into the Australian Open, building on its innovative cross-platform pillar strategy of 2019. This creates bespoke opportunities around the tournament for a range of clients in areas such as news, sport, lifestyle and entertainment.

These new opportunities around the Australian Open in 2020 include:

• Publishing – Nine will look to develop a Good Weekend edition for the Australian Open, titled Good AO, which will be the bible on the Open, with unmissable experiences, advice on food/restaurants around the Grand Slam event, and distribution across Sydney and Melbourne.
• Digital – AO Essential will be a dedicated 9Now program, including highlight packages and unmissable moments from the previous day’s play.
• Television/Digital – a weekend television show launching in October, which will cater to fans and fanatics who want to know everything about the run-up to the Australian Open.
• Television/Digital – Behind the Racquet – a 60 Minutes feature special, which will go behind the scenes at the Australian Open and show viewers what exactly goes into creating a Grand Slam tennis event.

“In 2019, we clearly demonstrated what we could do for marketers around the Australian Open with exciting new activations that delivered real results for brands likes Kia, Peters and Uber Eats,” Matt Granger, Nine’s director of sales – sports, said.

“Next year’s tournament will be no different, with a range of bespoke solutions being developed for clients that seek to capitalise on the truly unique nature of tennis in January. Last year we showed that there is no other event like the Australian Open, which captures fans across the areas of food, kids, music, and of course tennis itself.”

TV Ratings Analysis: August 1

• Steve Smith saves the first Ashes Test for Australia and Nine
• Ashes cricket gives Nine a Thursday victory, 9Gem thrives
• Second night of The Bachelor drops to just under 700,000
• The Hunting and new Gourmet Farmer launch on SBS

Thursday Week 31 2019

By James Manning

• Seven News 950,000/930,000
• Nine News 815,000/805,000
• A Current Affair 716,000
• ABC News 595,000
• 7.30 476,000
• The Project 254,000/457,000
• 10 News First 342,000
• The Drum 172,000
• SBS World News 126,000

Breakfast TV

• Sunrise 253,000
• Today 201,000


It’s been a while since Seven lost a network Thursday night, but Nine’s combo of Ashes cricket and live NRL was a magnet for viewers.

After three nights close to 700,000, Home And Away dipped to 565,000.

The Front Bar was then on 344,000 across the network, one of its smallest audiences this year. The Melbourne crowd was 197,000, which was down on recent FB numbers. 


Cricket and NRL were key to Nine’s success across the country.

The Ashes started horrendously for Australia with three early wickets. Steve Smith then managed to steady the ship for the country and the broadcast rights holder. The audience for the first session across Nine and 9Gem was 695,000. The lunch break did 482,000 and then the second session was on 392,000.

The cricket was a key influencer in where Thursday viewers went. With NRL getting the primary channel in rugby league capitals, 9Gem did well with shares of 10.9% in Sydney and 11.9% in Brisbane.

The cricket was on Nine’s primary channel in Melbourne, which basked in a Thursday share 30.3% which the channel hasn’t seen since the glory days of The Footy Show.

The NRL did good business in its key territories – 204,000 in Sydney and 83,000 in Brisbane.


The Bachelor’s Matt Agnew saw the audience for the second episode of the new season dip from 828,000 to 693,000. Melbourne remains the strongest market with 238,000 last night.

Two episodes of Law & Order: SVU then did 275,000 and 205,000.


Escape From The City was on the edges of Hobart on a very cold day filmed in May last year. It might be a big shock for the couple moving from Sydney’s northern beaches. The audience was 389,000.


A solid couple of hours of drama from 8.30pm with the new Aussie series The Hunting launching with 277,000.

Later The Handmaid’s Tale was on 199,000.

Earlier in the night at 8pm Matthew Evans returned with a new season of Gourmet Farmer on 168,000.

Week 31 TV: Thursday
ABC Seven Nine 10 SBS
ABC 8.7% 7 16.3% 9 23.9% 10  12.2% SBS One 5.5%
ABC KIDS/ ABC COMEDY 2.2% 7TWO 3.8% GO! 2.4% 10 Bold 3.2% VICELAND 0.8%
ABC ME 0.5% 7mate 3.4% GEM 6.6% 10 Peach 2.2% Food Net 1.3%
ABC NEWS 1.3% 7flix 2.2% 9Life 1.8%     NITV 0.1%
    7Food 1.0%         SBS World Movies 0.6%
TOTAL 12.7%   26.6%   34.6%   17.7%   8.3%


ABC Seven Affiliates Nine Affiliates 10 Affiliates SBS
ABC 8.0% 7 17.3% 9 16.4% WIN 9.4% SBS One 4.2%
ABC KIDS/ ABC COMEDY 3.2% 7TWO 5.9% GO! 4.4% WIN Bold 3.5% VICELAND 1.2%
ABC ME 1.4% 7mate 5.0% GEM 8.7% WIN Peach 1.9% Food Net 1.5%
ABC NEWS 1.1% 7flix (Excl. Tas/WA) 2.8% 9Life 2.1% Sky News  on WIN 1.4% NITV 0.2%
    7food (QLD only) 0.6%            
TOTAL 13.6%   31.6%   31.6%   16.1%   7.1%


  1. Seven News Seven 950,000
  2. Seven News / Today Tonight Seven 930,000
  3. Nine News Nine 815,000
  4. Nine News 6:30 Nine 805,000
  5. A Current Affair Nine 716,000
  6. The Mid-Year Ashes: First Test -Eng V Aus -Session 1 -D1 Nine 695,000
  7. The Bachelor Australia 10 693,000
  8. ABC News ABC 595,000
  9. Home And Away Seven 565,000
  10. The Chase Australia Seven 543,000
  11. 7.30 ABC 476,000
  12. Hot Seat Nine 461,000
  13. The Project 7pm 10 457,000
  14. Escape From The City ABC 389,000
  15. The Mid-Year Ashes: First Test -Eng V Aus -Lunch -D1 Nine 355,000
  16. The Front Bar Seven 344,000
  17. The Chase Australia-5pm Seven 343,000
  18. 10 News First 10 342,000
  19. The Mid-Year Ashes: First Test -Eng V Aus -Session 2 -D1 Nine 301,000
  20. Hot Seat -5pm Nine 297,000
Demo Top 5

16-39 Top Five

  1. The Bachelor Australia 10 276,000
  2. The Mid-Year Ashes: First Test -Eng V Aus -Session 1 -D1 Nine 132,000
  3. The Project 7pm 10 124,000
  4. Seven News / Today Tonight Seven 122,000
  5. The Mid-Year Ashes: First Test -Eng V Aus -Lunch -D1 Nine 111,000


18-49 Top Five

  1. The Bachelor Australia 10 388,000
  2. The Project 7pm 10 222,000
  3. Seven News / Today Tonight Seven 213,000
  4. The Mid-Year Ashes: First Test -Eng V Aus -Session 1 -D1 Nine 213,000
  5. Seven News Seven 201,000


25-54 Top Five

  1. The Bachelor Australia 10 397,000
  2. The Project 7pm 10 253,000
  3. Seven News / Today Tonight Seven 250,000
  4. Nine News 6:30 Nine 250,000
  5. Seven News Seven 248,000
THURSDAY Multichannel
  1. The Mid-Year Ashes: First Test -Eng V Aus 9GEM 284,000
  2. Bluey AM ABCKIDS/COMEDY 162,000
  3. Floogals ABCKIDS/COMEDY 153,000
  4. Go Jetters ABCKIDS/COMEDY 146,000
  5. Rusty Rivets ABCKIDS/COMEDY 145,000
  6. Nella The Princess Knight AM ABCKIDS/COMEDY 143,000
  7. Father Brown PM 7TWO 142,000
  8. Ben And Holly’s Little Kingdom AM ABCKIDS/COMEDY 141,000
  9. The Mid-Year Ashes: First Test -Eng V Aus 9GEM 137,000
  10. Andy’s Safari Adventures ABCKIDS/COMEDY 136,000
  11. Peppa Pig PM ABCKIDS/COMEDY 135,000
  12. Dinosaur Train ABCKIDS/COMEDY 134,000
  13. A Touch Of Frost PM 7TWO 133,000
  14. Kiri And Lou PM ABCKIDS/COMEDY 132,000
  15. PJ Masks PM ABCKIDS/COMEDY 129,000
  16. Kiddets AM ABCKIDS/COMEDY 129,000
  17. The Mid-Year Ashes: First Test -Eng V Aus 9-LGUeNmCH-D1 128,000
  18. Peppa Pig AM ABCKIDS/COMEDY 127,000
  19. M- The Transporter PM 7mate 127,000
  20. Fireman Sam AM ABCKIDS/COMEDY 127,000
  1. Live: NRL Wests Tigers V Cowboys FOX LEAGUE 183,000
  2. Live: The Late Show With Matty Johns FOX LEAGUE 75,000
  3. Credlin Sky News Live 67,000
  4. The Bolt Report Sky News Live 67,000
  5. Live: NRL Thursday Night League FOX LEAGUE 66,000
  6. Gold Rush: White Water Discovery Channel 45,000
  7. Grand Designs Australia Lifestyle Channel 45,000
  8. Paul Murray Live Sky News Live 44,000
  9. Live: AFL 360 FOX FOOTY 42,000
  10. Family Guy FOX8 39,000
  11. Blue Bloods TVH!TS 35,000
  12. A Hotel For The Super Rich And Famous Lifestyle Channel 34,000
  13. The Simpsons FOX8 33,000
  14. Criminal Minds TVH!TS 32,000
  15. The Simpsons FOX8 31,000
  16. Shimmer And Shine Nick Jr. 30,000
  17. CSI: Crime Scene Investigation TVH!TS 29,000
  18. Wentworth FOX SHOWCASE 29,000
  19. NRL Tonight FOX LEAGUE 29,000
  20. Family Guy FOX8 29,000

Shares all people, 6pm-midnight, Overnight (Live and AsLive), Audience numbers FTA metro, Sub TV national
Source: OzTAM and Regional TAM 2018. The Data may not be reproduced, published or communicated (electronically or in hard copy) without the prior written consent of OzTAM

Media News Roundup

Business of Media

Facebook CMO: Platform ready to build trust ‘by meaningful action’

Facebook has admitted it faces a years-long struggle to win back the trust of consumers and advertisers following a string of controversies including abuses of user privacy and live-streaming the Christchurch massacre, according to one of the social network’s top executives, reports The Australian’s Zoe Samios.

Chief marketing officer Antonio Lucio said the company needed to build a corporate persona that could properly represent the Facebook, Instagram and Whats­App social networks it owned. “Trust cannot be built by words alone, trust has to be built by very meaningful action,” he said.

“The role that my team and I are going to play is to ensure that those actions are communicated to the right audiences … the employees, our users, our advertisers, policymakers and opinion leaders of each one of the countries in which we participate,” Lucio said at the AdWeek conference yesterday.

[Read the original]

ABC fails to deliver casual staff back pay eight months later

Eight months after the ABC was embroiled in short-changing up to 2500 casual staff, the public broadcaster is still working on resolving the problem that could cost it millions of dollars, reports The Australian’s Lilly Vitorivich.

An ABC spokesman told The Australian that it is “going through a thorough process to identify any employees who have been underpaid”.

“The ABC self-reported this issue earlier this year with the Fair Work Ombudsman and we continue to work with the FWO to finalise the matter.”

[Read the original]

ASIC denies 'delay tactics' in Harold Mitchell Tennis Australia case

The corporate regulator has defended claims it has drip fed documents to the legal team for two former Tennis Australia board members and withheld information it plans to use in its court case against the pair, reports The AFR’s Liz Main.

The Australian Securities and Investments Commission alleges Harold Mitchell secretly helped Seven win broadcasting rights to the Australian Open in 2013 when he was vice-president of Tennis Australia.

ASIC also alleges he and former Tennis Australia president Stephen Healy neglected to tell the rest of the board about a higher, rival bid during the tender process.

The Federal Court of Australia ordered ASIC to hand over documents it plans to rely on when the case goes to trial later this year, including transcripts of interviews that were part of ASIC’s investigation.

But Mitchell’s legal team alleges ASIC failed to follow through.

[Read the original]

News Brands

Aunty’s radio star slams Sales, 7.30 over Calombaris ‘ad’

Top ABC radio presenter Jon Faine has lashed Leigh Sales’s 7.30 over a prerecorded interview with celebrity chef George Calombaris, which he attacked as nothing more than an “ad” for the embattled restaurateur, reports The Australian’s Remy Varga.

Faine said he accepted his words might lose him friends but he was disappointed by Wednesday night’s interview with the former MasterChef judge on the flagship 7.30 program.

“If this costs me friendships and relationships with some of my colleagues in other parts of this organisation, then I’m sorry,” he said on air this morning.

“But I was very disappointed that the ABC agreed to do the interview on his turf in a way that he could … turn it into an ad.”

[Read the original]

Fran Kelly to host ABC's Insiders for the rest of the year

Radio National’s Fran Kelly will take over as host of ABC’s Insiders until the end of the year, reports The Sydney Morning Herald’s Robert Moran.

The breakfast presenter revealed the news on her program Thursday morning.

She also said Radio National’s drive presenter Patricia Karvelas would be filling in on her 6am slot for the next two weeks, before Hamish Macdonald takes over the position for the rest of the year.

[Read the original]


Fitzy & Wippa launch School Breakfast fundraiser with Bendigo Bank

Fitzy & Wippa’s School Breakfast has launched today with plans to visit 11 schools in the greater Sydney area.

A nutritious meal assists students to focus in class and positively impacts mental health, social skills, behaviour and academic outcomes. Currently, one in five kids in Australia go to school without the most important meal of the day.

To support these kids, Fitzy & Wippa have teamed up with Bendigo Bank’s Community Bank branches to raise just under $60,000. To ensure the funds are allocated where they are needed most, the team have enlisted respected expert’s Foodbank NSW & ACT, known for their School Breakfast 4 Health program.

Over the next four weeks, Fitzy & Wippa, Bendigo Bank’s Community Bank branches and Foodbank NSW & ACT, will send the Nova 96.9 Casanova street team to schools around Sydney, to create a fun morning and provide a nutritious and delicious breakfast for the kids.

Fitzy & Wippa said: “We both have two active boys so we know first hand the importance of a healthy breakfast to set them up for the day. We are thrilled to have partnered with Bendigo Bank’s network of Community Bank branches and Foodbank NSW & ACT for such an important initiative that will have an impact at a grassroots level.”

Last year Fitzy & Wippa partnered with the Bendigo Bank network for their Mega Farm Rescue, raising over $110,000 for Rural Aid that was distributed to NSW farmers in need.

The Nova Sydney hosts had a big show today with a special Big Brother reunion featuring Fitzy and his former TV colleagues. Other guests today were Rebel Wilson and Karl Stefanovic.


Print still Strong: Brave publisher launching a new bi-monthly title

Australia is getting a new bi-monthly print title, with Strong Fitness Magazine Australia launching in October 2019.

The Australian edition of Canadian health magazine Strong is being published by Alicia Fistonich (above middle), a former media executive turned fitness trainer. Strong Fitness Magazine Australia has appointed Katelyn Swallow (above right), former editor of Women’s Health & Fitness magazine, as editor-in-chief.

Now published in Canada and the US, Strong Fitness Magazine Australia the publishers say the title will become a trusted source of cutting-edge fitness and health information for the strong, resilient, modern woman.

Strong Fitness Magazine Australia publisher Alicia Fistonich said, “I’m extremely excited to be bringing a fresh perspective on fitness for women to Australia. Our team is incredible, and I can’t wait to see how far we can go with our Aussie take on this amazing product and brand.”

Editor-in-chief Katelyn Swallow is aiming to educate, motivate and inspire Australian women, “We want to showcase the beauty and power of an array of female body types, and to support and inspire women to achieve their personal health and fitness goals through science-based editorial features and engaging stories.”

Strong Fitness Magazine Australia will be on sale October 3 for $7.95 and will be available in print and digital versions.


David Penberthy: Sorry, George. Your apology is hard to swallow

If George Calombaris was a recipe ingredient, you could liken him to the poor rabbit in that wonderful Greek dish, stifado, writes News Corp’s David Penberthy.

Calombaris has been chopped up and allowed to stew in his own juices for an eternity as a result of a protracted national scandal over his underpayment of staff, and his increasingly desperate attempts to restore his shattered reputation.

On top of that, the emergence from within the 10 Network of the inner wranglings and ultimate shredding of his already eye-watering MasterChef contract only cemented the perception that George is ultimately in it for George.

The cumulative effect of all this is that George Calombaris – whose commercial and media success was always driven by his likability – is now regarded by many as a pretty ordinary sort of a bloke.

[Read the original]

Has this comedian & reality star been ‘blacklisted’ by TV bosses?

Fiona O’Loughlin believes she’s been “blacklisted” by Australian TV executives, reports

Last year the comedian won the fourth season of I’m a Celebrity … Get Me Out Of Here! but she has been unable to land a permanent TV gig since.

“I reckon I’ve been blacklisted from the television,” O’Loughlin said on The Little Dum Dum Club podcast.

O’Loughlin explained that she thought she’d be an attractive prospect for TV executives after 65 per cent of viewers voted for her to win the Channel 10 reality show over Danny Green and Shannon Noll.

“If you win a reality TV show, surely that tells them … don’t the networks want what the people want?” she said. “I do think it’s rude to the audience and I don’t think Australian networks listen to the f***ing audience.”

The comedian, who has been performing stand-up for 20 years, speculated that her battle with alcoholism might be a contributing factor as to why she’s been overlooked by executives.

“It makes total sense to me if it is because of my alcoholic history,” she said. “And why would you employ someone who has the history that I’ve got?”

She suggested another reason could be because she’s “on the wrong side of 50”.

[Read the original]

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