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George Curry

Black Media Slighted as Spending Power Exceeds $1 Trillion

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By George E. Curry
NNPA Editor-in-Chief

WASHINGTON (NNPA) – Although annual Black spending is projected to rise from its current $1 trillion to $1.3 trillion by 2017, advertisers allot only 3 percent of their $2.2 billion yearly budget to media aimed at Black audiences, a new Nielsen report has found.

The study, “Resilient, Receptive and Relevant: The African-American Consumer 2013 Report,” was released at a news conference Thursday at the Congressional Black Caucus Legislative Weekend by Nielsen and the National Newspaper Publishers Association (NNPA). The findings were released by Cheryl Pearson-McNeil, senior vice-president, public affairs and government relations for Nielsen, and Cloves Campbell, chairman of the NNPA and publisher of the Arizona Informant.

“Advertising expenditures geared specifically toward Black audiences reflected only three percent of advertising dollars spent,” the report stated. “Advertisers spent $75 billion on television, radio, internet, and magazine ads in 2012, with only $2.24 billion of that spent with media focused on Black audiences.”

The report said if consumption patterns dictated a company’s advertising budget, then spending with the Black media should be:

44 percent higher on education and career websites;
38 percent higher on streaming websites;
37 percent higher on television (with special emphasis on cable) and
15 percent higher on mobile phone advertising.

“The consumer insights this year are some of the most varied yet,” said Pearson-McNeil. “From store brand loyalty, to top watched television networks, which mobile apps are most popular, a deep dive into how Blacks spend their digital time, and how companies can reach 10 million Black consumers by developing a southern regional strategy – this year’s report is really a compelling read for both advertisers and marketers.”

A 2011 study by Burrell Communications showed that 81 percent of Blacks believe that products advertised in Black media are more relevant to them.

Businesses that bypass the Black media, the report said, limit their potential growth.

“Companies mistakenly believe there are no language barriers, that a general market ‘one-size-fits-all’ strategy is an effective way to reach African-Americans” the Nielsen study said. “Just the opposite is true.”

The Nielsen study names the companies that do the most advertising with Black media:

Procter & Gamble ($75.32 million)
L’Oreal ($52.34 million)
McDonald’s ($38.24 million)
Unilever ($31.48 million)
U.S. Government ($28.36)
Berkshire/Hathaway ($27.81 million)
Comcast ($27.69) million)
Hershey ($27.01 million)
PepsiCo ($25.07 million)
Walmart ($24.40 million)
Fiat ($23.60 million)
AT&T ($22.49 million)
Verizon Communications ($22.08 million)
Toyota ($21.43 million)
General Motors ($20.81 million)
Sony ($19.88 million)
Johnson & Johnson ($19.59 million)
Ford ($19.11 million)
Allstate ($19.06 million)
National Amusements, Inc. ($18.92 million)

Advertising by the top 20 companies increased by 2.5 percent between 2011 and 2012. The companies with the largest increases in spending with Black media were: Unilever (40.1 percent), PepsiCo (39.1 percent), Walmart (27.2 percent), the U.S. government (26.4 percent), L’Oreal (19.6 percent), Berkshire Hathaway (15.1 percent) and Comcast (13.2 percent).

Top 20 advertisers with the largest decreases were: Johnson & Johnson (30.7 percent), National Amusements (26.2 percent) and Verizon (24.6 percent).

“Until we do a better job as consumers in the choices we make and invest in companies that invest in us, we are not going to have any changes,” said Pearson-McNeil. Campbell said he hopes the data will help develop “conscious consumers.”

Utilizing Black media makes good business sense, the report said.

“By aligning additional marketing support and more focused strategies using media sources such as Black newspapers, Black radio, Black online sites and other media outlets trusted and relied on by Blacks for their unfiltered information, companies can develop more culturally relevant messages….” the report stated.

It noted that Blacks over index in certain categories, including health and beauty aids, unprepared meat, frozen seafood, feminine hygiene, women’s fragrances, and detergents.

“An examination of African-Americans’ overall category uses reveals some notable and perhaps newly discovered behavioral distinctions between Blacks and the Total Market,” the report found. “Blacks spend 44% more time on Education and Career sites and 21 % more time on Family and Lifestyle sites than Total Market consumers, breaking the myth that Blacks are disinterested in education and the family’s well-being. Additionally, African-Americans continue to be resilient in their role as early adopters of technology as 14% are more likely to spend time on Telecom/Internet Services sites.”

Blacks are also likely to spend far more time watching television.

“Blacks are voracious media users and leaders when it comes to setting pop culture trends. Nowhere is this more prevalent than in Blacks’ television habits where Blacks watch 37% more television than any other group, spending seven hours and 17 minutes per day viewing TV, compared to five hours and 18 minutes of total viewing for Total Market,” the Nielsen study stated.

It continued, “Black women, especially those 18-49, tend to be heavier viewers than their male counterparts. Not surprisingly, media outlets dedicated to Black audiences have a higher composition of Black viewers, which should be of interest to businesses who incorporate media buys into their marketing strategies.”

Blacks outpace Whites in buying smartphones. The Nielsen report found that 71 percent of Blacks own smartphones, compared to 62 percent of the total population. Most African Americans prefer Androids (73 percent) over iPhones (27 percent).

Although a lot of attention is being placed on the growth of Latinos in the U.S., the Black population, which now stands at 43 million people, grew 64 percent faster than the rest of the country since 2000, the study said. The average age is 35, three years younger than the overall population; 53 percent of Blacks are under the age of 35.

Significantly, 73 percent of Whites and 67 percent of Latinos identified Blacks as the driving force for popular culture.

Fortune 100 companies not ranking in the top 20 advertisers with Black media included: General Electric, Citigroup, IBM, Philip Morris, AIG, Home Depot, Bank of America, Fannie Mae, J.P. Morgan Chase, Kroger, Merck, State Farm Insurance, Hewlett-Packard, Morgan Stanley, Sears Roebuck, Target, Merrill Lynch, Kmart, Freddie Mac, Costco, Safeway, Pfizer, J.C. Penney, MetLife, Dell Computer, Goldman Sachs, UPS, Prudential Financial, Wells Fargo, Sprint, New York Life, Microsoft, Walt Disney, Aetna, Walgreen, Bank One, BellSouth, Honeywell, UnitedHealth Group, Viacom, American Express, Wachovia Corp., CVS, Lowe’s, Bristol-Myers Squibb and Coca-Cola.

“Too often, companies don’t realize the inherent differences of our community, are not aware of the market size impact and have not optimized efforts to develop messages beyond those that coincide with Black History Month,” said Campbell, chairman of the NNPA. “It is our hope that by collaborating with Nielsen, we’ll be able to tell the African-American consumer story in a manner in which businesses will understand and, that this understanding will propel those in the C-Suite to develop stronger, more inclusive strategies that optimize their market growth in Black communities, which would be a win-win for all of us.”

1963 was the Pivotal Year for Civil Rights

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(NNPA) In the modern civil rights era, no year stands out in my memory more than 1963. I was a sophomore at Druid High School in Tuscaloosa, Ala. and living in McKenzie Court, the all-Black housing project on the west side of town. After a life of second-class citizenship, I finally saw the walls of segregation crumbling.

Tuscaloosa provided me with a front-row seat. My stepfather, William H. Polk, drove a dump truck at the University of Alabama. Although our taxes went to support what was even then a football factory, African Americans were barred from attending the state-supported school.

On Feb. 3, 1956, Autherine Lucy gained admission to the University of Alabama under a U.S. Supreme Court order. But a mob gathered on campus three days later. Instead defending the Black graduate student, the university suspended Lucy, saying officials could not protect her. When she sued to gain readmission, Alabama officials used that suit to claim she had slandered the university and therefore could not continue as a student.

But things would be different on June 11, 1963, which is not to say there wouldn’t be resistance.

Vivian Malone and James Hood, armed with a federal court order that the university admit them and segregationist Gov. George C. Wallace not interfere, sought to enter Foster Auditorium on campus to register for classes. They were accompanied by Deputy U.S. Attorney General Nicholas Katzenbach.

Instead of complying with the federal order, Gov. Wallace, who had pledged “segregation now, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever” in his inaugural address, staged his “Stand in the Schoolhouse Door” to block to the two students from entering.

Katzenbach left with the students and placed a call to President John F. Kennedy. The president nationalized the Alabama National Guard. When Malone, Hood and Katzenbach returned to Foster Auditorium that afternoon, Gen. Henry Graham told Wallace, “Sir, it is my sad duty to ask you to step aside under orders of the president of the United States.”

After uttering a few words, Wallace stepped to the side and Malone and Hood walked inside and registered.

It was exciting to see the drama being played out on our black and white TV. At last, I thought, the walls of segregation would be forever shattered.

President Kennedy gave an eloquent televised speech to the nation that night. He said, “Today we are committed to a worldwide struggle to promote and protect the rights of all who wish to be free. And when Americans are sent to Viet Nam or West Berlin, we do not ask for whites only. It ought to be possible, therefore, for American students of any color to attend any public institution they select without having to be backed up by troops.”

The euphoria of a victory in my hometown was short lived. Within hours of Kennedy’s speech, Medgar Evers, who headed NAACP field operations in Mississippi, was shot to death in Jackson, Miss. after parking his car in his driveway and exiting to enter his home. Byron De La Beckwith, a member of the Ku Klux Klan, was arrested for the crime. However, he was acquitted by an all-White, all male jury. It wasn’t until 30 years later, when new evidence surfaced, that Beckwith was finally convicted for murdering Evers.

Of course, 250,000 gathered Aug. 28, 1963 for the March on Washington. Much has been written about the March as part of the 50th anniversary celebration, so I won’t devote much space here except to note that the news media was fixated on the possibility of the March turning violent. But, as the Baltimore Sun noted, only three people were arrested that day and “not one was a Negro.”

Like the desegregation of the University of Alabama, White racists were eager to “send a message” that the March on Washington would not change their world.

In the wee hours of Sunday, Sept. 15, four Klansmen – Bobby Frank Cherry, Thomas Blanton, Herman Frank and Robert Chambliss, planted a box of dynamite with a time delay under the steps of the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Ala., a rallying point in the city for civil rights activities. At 10:22 a.m., the bomb went off, killing four young girls – Addie Mae Collins, Cynthia Wesley, Carole Robertson and Denise McNair – and injuring 22 others.

Although the violent message was supposed to remind Blacks that there were no safe places for them, not even church, Blacks sent a more lasting message by continuing to desegregate public facilities in Birmingham and across the South.

The enormous sacrifices of 1963 were not in vain. They provided the groundwork for passage of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, the 1965 Voting Rights Act and the Fair Housing Act of 1968. It was a year worth remembering.

George E. Curry, former editor-in-chief of Emerge magazine, is editor-in-chief of the National Newspaper Publishers Association News Service (NNPA.) He is a keynote speaker, moderator, and media coach. Curry can be reached through his Web site, www.georgecurry.com. You can also follow him at www.twitter.com/currygeorge and George E. Curry Fan Page on Facebook.

'Never' Say We Haven't Made Progress

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(NNPA) Selma, Ala., the county seat of Dallas County, was a bastion of White supremacy in 1965. At the time, of the 15,000 potential Black voters, only 300 were registered. In response to chants of “We Shall Overcome,” by civil rights protesters, Sheriff Jim Clark wore a button on his uniform declaring, “Never.”

That did not stop Rev. C.T. Vivian, a close aide of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and workers from the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) from leading daily marches to the courthouse in an effort to register Blacks. On February 5, 1965, Clark blocked the entrance to the courthouse with his deputies.

“If we’re wrong, why don’t you arrest us?” Vivian said.

Instead of arresting Vivian, Clark hit him so hard in the face that he fractured a finger. After being knocked down the steps, a bloodied C.T. Vivian rose to his feet and said, “We’re willing to be beaten for democracy, and you misuse democracy in this street. You beat people bloody in order that they will not have the privilege to vote.”

Vivian and other activists persisted. Though John Lewis and others were pummeled by Clark’s deputies and Alabama State Troopers on the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma on what became known as “Bloody Sunday,” Blacks did overcome after the passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

When Sheriff Clark sought re-election in predominantly Black Dallas County in 1966, newly-empowered Black voters said “Never” and kicked him out of office.

Surely, President Obama had Vivian and others like him in mind when he said at the Aug. 28 commemoration of the 1963 March on Washington: “To dismiss the magnitude of this progress – to suggest, as some sometimes do, that little has changed – that dishonors the courage and the sacrifice of those who paid the price to march in those years…”

Obama recently announced that he is awarding Vivian, one of the most courageous figures of the Civil Rights Movement, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor. Vivian joins other movement veterans, including Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. (posthumously), James L. Farmer, Dorothy Height, John Lewis, Benjamin L. Hooks, Jesse L. Jackson, Sr., Joseph Lowery, Clarence Mitchell, Rosa Parks, Bayard Rustin (posthumously), Roy Wilkins, Andrew Young and Marian Wright Edelman in receiving the distinguished honor.

Because so much work still needs to be done, sometimes we neglect to stand back and appreciate just how much America has changed in the past 50 years.

The Census Bureau provided the following comparisons:

INCOME

1963:

$22,266 (in 2011 dollars)

The median family income for blacks was 55 percent of the median income for all American families.

$25,826 and $14,651 (in 2011 dollars)

Median income of black men and black women who worked full time, year-round

2011

$40,495

The median family income for the Black-alone population was 66 percent of the median income for all American families

$40,273 and $35,146

Median income of single-race black men and black women who worked full time, year-round.

POVERTY

1966

41.8 percent

Poverty rate for Blacks (1966 is the closest year these statistics are available to the historic speech). Nationally, the poverty rate for all races was 14.7 percent.

2011

27.6 percent

Poverty rate for single-race Blacks. Nationally, the poverty rate for all races was 15 percent.

HOUSING

1970

41.6 percent

Homeownership rate for Blacks (the earliest this information is available for race).

2011

43.4 percent

Homeownership rate for Blacks.

HIGH SCHOOL GRADUATION

1964

25.7 percent

Percentage of Blacks age 25 and over who completed at least four years of high school.

2.4 million

Number of Blacks 25 and over with at least four years of high school.

2012

85.0 percent

Percentage of Blacks age 25 and over who completed at least four years of high school.

20.3 million

Number of Blacks 25 and over with at least a high school diploma.

COLLEGE STUDENTS AND GRADUATES

1964

234,000

Number of Black undergraduate college students.

3.9 percent

Percent of Blacks age 25 and over who completed at least four years of college

365,000

Number of Blacks who had at least a bachelor’s degree.

2012

2.6 million

Number of Black undergraduate college students in 2011 — More than 10 times as many as 1964.

21.2 percent

Percent of Blacks age 25 and over who completed at least four years of college.

5.1 million

Number of Blacks who had at least a bachelor’s degree.

Yes, we have made progress as a direct result of the modern Civil Rights Movement. And instead of denying that fact – preferring to see the glass as half empty instead of half full – we should celebrate that progress let it be proof that with our efforts, we can continue to make progress over another 50 years.

George E. Curry, former editor-in-chief of Emerge magazine, is editor-in-chief of the National Newspaper Publishers Association News Service (NNPA.) He is a keynote speaker, moderator, and media coach. Curry can be reached through his Web site, www.georgecurry.com. You can also follow him at www.twitter.com/currygeorge and George E. Curry Fan Page on Facebook.

D.C. Marches Inclusive – Up to a Point

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(NNPA) Organizers of the two recent marches on Washington – one called by Al Sharpton and Martin Luther King, III and the other engineered primarily by King’s sister, Bernice – almost stumbled over one another praising the diversity of their respective marches.

However, not one addressed the elephant in the room: Why was more emphasis placed on bringing in groups that were not part of the push for jobs and freedom in 1963 than assembling a broad coalition of Black leaders? To be even more direct: How can you justify excluding Minister Louis Farrakhan? After all, he managed to draw more Black men to the nation’s capital on Oct. 16, 1995 than the combined crowds at the 1963 March on Washington, the Sharpton-led march on Aug. 24 and the Aug. 28 commemorative march. In fact, the Million Man March at least doubled their combined attendance.

Regardless of your personal view of Farrakhan, he has demonstrated that he has a significant following in the Black community and deserves to be part of any serious attempt to address the numerous problems facing Black America.

Of course, the reason Farrakhan was excluded is because he is anathema to Jews, who view him as a virulent anti-Semite. Essentially, the choice for Black leaders is that they must choose between Jews, longtime allies of the Civil Rights Movement, and Farrakhan, who inspires and motivates some segments of the Black community that establishment leaders can’t reach.

Over the years, Black leaders have sided with Jews. Except for a couple of months under Kweisi Mfume, the Congressional Black Caucus, one of the strongest pro-Israel voting blocs in Congress, and the NAACP under Ben Chavis have consistently distanced themselves from Farrakhan.

At its 1993 CBC Weekend town hall meeting on “Race in America,” Mfume declared, “No longer will we allow people to divide us. We want the word to go forward today to friend and foe alike that the Congressional Black Caucus, after having entered into a sacred covenant with the NAACP to work for real and meaningful change, will enter into that same covenant with the Nation of Islam”’ and other Black organizations, such as fraternities, sororities and professional groups. But after Farrakhan assistant Khalid Abdul Muhammad gave a speech at Keene College in New Jersey denouncing Jews as “blood suckers” and the Pope as a “no good cracker,” CBC members pressured Mfume to withdraw the offer of a covenant.

Non-Blacks never understood that Mfume wasn’t endorsing Farrakhan’s or Muhammad’s views of Jews. Rather he was advocating what civil rights leaders call “operational unity,” meaning that they will cooperate to collectively address some of the ills in the African American community while maintaining their independence.

Democratic pollster Mark Mellman told the Los Angeles Times, “There is a failure of many Jews to understand the sense of crisis in the black community.” But he added, “There is a lack of appreciation by blacks of Jewish anxieties over their embracing people like Farrakhan who are vicious anti-Semites.”

Although he spoke at Sharpton’s rally, Jesse Jackson was noticeably absent from the array of speakers at the Aug. 28 observation that featured President Barack Obama and former presidents Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton. Jackson, who had his own share of problems with Jews after he referred to New York City as “Hymietown” during his 1984 presidential campaign, was probably omitted from the program because of his strained relationship with Obama.

Jackson alienated Obama supporters when he was caught on tape disparaging then-candidate Obama. As Jackson prepared to be interviewed on “Fox & Friends Weekend,” he was overheard saying Obama had been talking down to Black people. Jackson told a fellow guest that he wanted to cut off Obama’s testicles. He quickly apologized for what he called “crude and hurtful comments.”

Jackson’s comments hurt his standing in the Black community more than it hurt Obama, who accepted Jackson’s apology before going on to win the general election.

Although Obama accepted Jackson’s apology, Jackson is not been among the civil rights leaders who meet regularly with the president or Valerie Jarrett, a top White House adviser. And many African Americans, who overwhelmingly support the nation’s first Black president, have yet to forgive Jackson for his comments. Few will admit that in one respect, Jackson was right – Obama sometimes comes across as lecturing Black audiences while not doing the same when speaking to mostly White groups.

Jackson acknowledges that he was wrong for saying he wanted to dismember a certain part of Obama’s lower body. However, that was five years ago and the civil rights leader has contributed too much over the past four decades to be forever excommunicated from the Black race.

The two recent marches on Washington are over and shouldn’t be the yardstick by which we judge the value of Black leaders. The Black community is in a crisis and needs all of the help it can get, regardless of how unpopular that might be with others.

George E. Curry, former editor-in-chief of Emerge magazine, is editor-in-chief of the National Newspaper Publishers Association News Service (NNPA.) He is a keynote speaker, moderator, and media coach. Curry can be reached through his Web site, www.georgecurry.com. You can also follow him at www.twitter.com/currygeorge and George E. Curry Fan Page on Facebook.

Marching Orders for the Future

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(NNPA) Now that we’ve had two events at the Lincoln Memorial to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the 1963 March on Washington, it is important to remember a few things about Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. beyond his “I Have a Dream” speech.

The question is always asked: What happens after the marches are over? Demonstrators left Washington, D.C. in 1963 determined to change the American landscape. Consequently, we had passage of the 1965 Civil Rights Act, the 1965 Voting Rights Act and the 1968 Fair Housing Act. Those laws were passed not because of a speech in the nation’s capital, but because of the hard work and dedication of people at the local, state and national level to bring about change.

While the “I Have a Dream” speech might have been Dr. King’s most popular oration, it was not his most substantive one. In 1963, Dr. King etched a prosaic picture of what America should look like in the future. But a far more important one was his “Mountaintop” speech, delivered in Memphis the night before he was assassinated.

In that speech, Dr. King outlined a plan for economic empowerment and told us how to strengthen our institutions to accomplish that goal. He reminded us, “Always anchor our external direct action with the power of economic withdrawal.”

Dr. King explained, “We don’t have to argue with anybody. We don’t have to curse and go around acting bad with our words. We don’t need any bricks and bottles, we don’t need any Molotov cocktails. We just need to go around to these stores, and to these massive industries in our country, and say, ‘God sent us by here, to say to you that you’re not treating his children right. And we’ve come by here to ask you to make the first item on your agenda—fair treatment, where God’s children are concerned. Now, if you are not prepared to do that, we do have an agenda that we must follow. And our agenda calls for withdrawing economic support from you.”

He urged us to “strengthen our Black institutions” by patronizing them.

Instead of placing so much emphasis on what Dr. King said in 1963, we should look at what he was doing at the time of his death. He wasn’t trying to create a special commission or hold conferences on how to strengthen the middle class. He was organizing a Poor Peoples Campaign, a trek to Washington, D.C. to dramatize the urgent need to help the least among us.

After President Lyndon B. Johnson shifted his focus from the War on Poverty to the war in Vietnam, Dr. King and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) launched an effort in 1968 to seek economic justice for poor Blacks, Whites, Latinos and Native Americans. The idea was to have another March on Washington that would force political leaders to address the issue of poverty.

“We ought to come in mule carts, in old trucks, any kind of transportation people can get their hands on,” King said. “People ought to come to Washington, sit down if necessary in the middle of the street and say, ‘We are here; we are poor; we don’t have any money; you have made us this way… and we’ve come to stay until you do something about it.”

SCLC continued the Poor People’s March after King’s death, erecting a tent city on the Mall. After six weeks, demonstrators were evicted.

Today, the poor are still suffering. Poverty is defined as a family of four being able to live off of $23,021 a year. Today, a record 46.2 million people –15 percent of the U.S. population – are living in poverty.

One of the goals of the 1963 March on Washington was a minimum wage that could lift a family of four out of poverty. They demanded that the minimum wage of $1.15 an hour be increased to $2 an hour. As a report by the Economic Policy Institute (EPI) titled, “The Unfinished March: An Overview,” noted, “The inflation-adjusted value of the minimum wage today is about $2.00 less than it was at its peak value in 1968.”

Worse than living on below-poverty wages is to have no job at all.

“Even when the national unemployment rate has been low, the African American unemployment rate has been high,” the EPI report stated. “For example, in 2000, when the national unemployment rate was 4.0 percent, and the non-Hispanic white unemployment rate was 3.1 percent, the unemployment rate of non-Hispanic blacks was still 7.6 percent. Put another way, even when the economy was booming in 2000, the black unemployment rate was still higher than the national unemployment rate during recessions.”

When he was assassinated, Dr. King was helping organize garbage workers in Memphis. He was not dreaming because he was not asleep. We honor him by continuing his work, not by merely continuing to recite his “I Have a Dream” speech.

George E. Curry, former editor-in-chief of Emerge magazine, is editor-in-chief of the National Newspaper Publishers Association News Service (NNPA.) He is a keynote speaker, moderator, and media coach. Curry can be reached through his Web site, www.georgecurry.com. You can also follow him at www.twitter.com/currygeorge and George E. Curry Fan Page on Facebook.

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