|This article needs additional citations for verification. (December 2012)|
WBZ News (during WBZ-TV-produced newscast)
|Channels||Digital: 39 (UHF)
Virtual: 38 (PSIP)
(CBS Television Licenses LLC)
|First air date||October 12, 1964|
|Call letters' meaning||SBK (stock ticker symbol of former owner Storer Broadcasting)|
|Sister station(s)||WBZ, WBZ-FM, WBZ-TV, WBMX, WODS, WZLX|
|Former callsigns||WIHS-TV (1964–1966)|
|Former channel number(s)||Analog:
38 (UHF, 1964–2009)
|Former affiliations||Independent (1964–1993, 2006–2011)
|Transmitter power||135 kW|
|Public license information:||Profile
WSBK-TV, virtual channel 38 (UHF digital channel 39), is a MyNetworkTV-affiliated television station located in Boston, Massachusetts, United States. The station is owned by the CBS Television Stations subsidiary of the CBS Corporation, as part of a duopoly with CBS owned-and-operated station WBZ-TV (channel 4). The two stations share studios on Soldiers Field Road in the Brighton section of Boston, WSBK's transmitter is located along the Needham and Wellesley town line (southwest of the MA 9 and I-95/MA 128 interchange).
The station is also available in Canada to subscribers of satellite providers Bell TV and Shaw Direct and select cable providers such as Cogeco Cable, Shaw Cable, Rogers Cable, Vidéotron, Telus TV and Persona. WSBK is also available via direct broadcast satellite throughout the United States on Dish Network as part of its superstation package (which since September 2013, is available only to existing subscribers of the tier).
- 1 History
- 2 Digital television
- 3 Programming
- 4 Newscasts
- 5 References
- 6 External links
The first construction permit for channel 38 in Boston was granted in October 1955 to Ajax Enterprises, headed by Herbert Mayer, a former New York City attorney who had founded Empire Coil, a New Rochelle, New York manufacturer of RF coils for television stations and receivers. Mayer went on to own stations in Portland, Oregon (KPTV, the country's first licensed UHF station) and Cleveland (WXEL). He sold the cable manufacturer and both television stations to Storer Broadcasting in 1954. Channel 38 was originally slated to have the WHMB call sign; however, after Storer changed the call letters of the Cleveland property to WJW-TV in April 1956, Mayer quickly reclaimed the WXEL call letters for the Boston station. WXEL's proposed transmitter in Melrose was never built, and the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) revoked the construction permit and deleted the call letters in November 1960.
The current station signed on the air on October 12, 1964. It was first licensed to the Boston Catholic Television Center under the call letters WIHS-TV. The station employed a general entertainment format, along with broadcasts of the daily and Sunday Mass. As WIHS, the station initially programmed a "hybrid" schedule – educational (for the Catholic schools in the Boston area) and religious programs during the morning, and syndicated programs and movies (and by 1966, some shows that the Boston area's network affiliates declined to air) in the afternoon and evening. The station also carried two 15-minute local newscasts each weekday, at 5:45 and 10 p.m., which consisted of an announcer reading news headlines into a camera.
The station also made an initial foray into sports, carrying ten regular season away games and all playoff road games from the Boston Celtics that were not carried on network television during the 1964-65 season. However, team management was worried about the lack of penetration of the UHF band, leading to playoff away games being simulcast on WHDH-TV (channel 5) in 1965 (that station had previously aired select Celtics telecasts, including playoff away games starting in 1962); the following season, the team moved back to WHDH outright. Some college sports (mostly hockey and basketball games) were carried during the WIHS era, which were carried over during the early Storer Broadcasting years.
The station was purchased by Storer Broadcasting in 1966. A few months after the purchase, the station's call letters were changed to the present WSBK-TV, named after the company's ticker symbol on the New York Stock Exchange, SBK. Storer scored its biggest coup in 1967, when it secured broadcast rights to the Boston Bruins from WKBG-TV (channel 56, now WLVI), and eventually owned the team for a three-year period from 1972 to 1975. During the next few years, as the Bruins became a contender for the National Hockey League's Stanley Cup championship, the popularity of these games led to a spike in UHF antenna purchases, and helped make channel 38 one of the leading independent stations in the country. For much of the time between 1970 and 1984, WSBK would televise between 70 and 72 of the Bruins' 80 regular season games, as well as all playoff games not shown on network television.
In 1975, WSBK acquired television rights to the Boston Red Sox; during the team's first year on WSBK, the Red Sox won the American League pennant. The team remained on WSBK until 1995, and returned for another three-year period from 2003 to 2005. WSBK had broadcast between 90 and 110 Red Sox games a year between 1975 and 1983; about 75 games a year from 1984 to 1995; and a limited number of games (usually 28 to 30 a year) between 2003 and 2005. Although WSBK carried Celtics road playoff games in 1969 (the team having abandoned WKBG at the end of the regular season after seeing the number of regular-season games broadcast by WKBG during the 1968-69 season shrink compared to the previous year), the station would not carry the NBA team's games on a regular basis until 1993. During that time, WSBK broadcast road games of the Celtics; it continued to do so through 1998.
In addition to an increasingly-stronger lineup of syndicated programs – which during the late 1960s through (to a lesser extent) the 1990s included cartoons (such as Looney Tunes/Merrie Melodies shorts and made-for-TV Popeye cartoons) and sitcoms (such as The Andy Griffith Show, The Dick Van Dyke Show, Cheers (itself set in Boston and now owned by CBS), M*A*S*H and Frasier), WSBK continued to run some network programs that were preempted by the local NBC (WBZ-TV), ABC (first WNAC-TV, then WCVB-TV), and CBS (first WHDH-TV, then WNAC-TV/WNEV-TV) affiliates until 1981. The station also ran several movies a day (one during the day, prime time, and late night). During the 1970s through the mid-1980s, WSBK's cartoon programs were hosted by Willie Whistle, a clown who used a bird-whistle in his mouth to create a distinctive voice he was recognized for.
Becoming a superstation
WSBK's popularity was such that by the mid-1970s, it was available on nearly every cable provider in New England and as far west as Buffalo, New York. In the late 1980s, WSBK became a national superstation when it entered into an agreement with Eastern Microwave to distribute its signal outside of New England. Eastern Microwave also distributed the signal of existing superstation WOR-TV in New York City. WSBK's main selling point was its coverage of the Red Sox, similar to how WOR-TV, WGN-TV in Chicago, and WTBS in Atlanta respectively used their coverage of the New York Mets, Chicago Cubs and Atlanta Braves. WSBK's carriage did not reach the same level as the other stations, but covered large portions of New York, New Jersey and a handful of cable providers in Florida (which produced the unusual circumstance of Red Sox games being regularly broadcast into part of the New York Yankees' main market, like WPIX in the Boston area which carried the Yankees). WSBK's coverage of the Boston Bruins also made it a favorite superstation on Canadian cable providers, along with WOR (at the time, WOR was televising away games of all three New York-area NHL teams, the New York Islanders, the New York Rangers and the New Jersey Devils).
When the FCC's syndication exclusivity rules (or "Syndex") were strengthened in the early 1990s, distribution of all out-of-market station signals were hampered. The rule protected stations in local markets from out-of-market competition by superstations that aired identical syndicated programming. Any station could file with cable providers for "protection" and the provider would have to black out the offending station for periods of time. The management of this "blocking" would prove so cumbersome that many cable providers began dropping distant signals such as WSBK and effectively stopped most superstation distribution. Distributors such as Eastern Microwave attempted to make it easier for cable providers by substituting shows that could not be blocked, but the damage had already been done by then.
WSBK began operating on a 24-hour schedule in the late 1970s, only to revert to late-night signoffs by the early 1980s. Besides its status as a sports powerhouse, WSBK made a name for itself when it created The Movie Loft, one of the first "hosted movie" franchises on television, long before it became a staple on cable. The program aired syndicated movies with interstitial program elements hosted by Dana Hersey. Part of the program's marketing was that it aired only "unedited" movies. The Movie Loft tested that on several occasions airing movies such as The Deer Hunter, The Boys in the Band and 48 Hrs. without editing for inappropriate content or length. In the mid-1980s, WSBK dropped the midday movie to make room for more sitcoms. For a few years, WSBK signed off at 1 or 2 a.m., but began operating 24 hours a day by the end of the decade.
Kohlberg Kravis Roberts bought WSBK and most of Storer's other stations in 1985. At this time, ownership was officially under the KKR subsidiary of New Boston Television, although Storer was still referenced on-air as being the parent company of WSBK. KKR later sold most of its stations to Gillett Communications. When Gillett defaulted on some of the financing agreements in the early 1990s, the ownership was restructured and the company was renamed SCI Television. Eventually, SCI ran into fiscal issues, and filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in 1993. As a result, WSBK was sold in a group deal to New World Communications that year.
Sale to Paramount and affiliation with UPN
In 1994, New World made a landmark deal with Fox to switch most of its CBS-, ABC- and NBC-affiliated stations to Fox. WSBK remained an independent station and was eventually put up for sale again to protect existing affiliate WFXT (channel 25), which Fox would acquire soon afterward (WSBK would not have been beneficial to Fox, as it was a UHF station – the New World stations that switched to Fox had broadcast on VHF channels between 2 and 13 – and did not have a news department unlike its sister stations). Channel 38 was then sold to the Paramount Stations Group (which would become a subsidiary of Viacom that same year) and became a charter affiliate of UPN on January 16, 1995; that June, the longtime "TV 38" branding was retired and changed to "UPN 38". In 1996, Viacom acquired a 50% ownership stake in the network, which effectively made WSBK-TV a UPN owned-and-operated station.
Originally, WSBK continued to essentially program under the conventions of an independent station as UPN would not run five nights a week of programming until 1998. While the affiliation did not result in immediate changes to the rest of its lineup outside of primetime, WSBK began incorporating more talk and reality shows by 1997, with older shows being gradually phased out. The Movie Loft was discontinued as a result of host Dana Hersey's retirement, as well as declining ratings for the program as the movie packages that the station acquired were of a lesser quality than in previous years. WSBK later revived the genre with The UPN 38 Movie House, hosted by actor and comedian Brian Frates and Movie Night (co-hosted by Dan and Dave Andelman); in the early 2000s, it also attempted a revival of The Movie Loft hosted by Skip Kelly. The station also began to decrease its telecasts of local professional sports events. For some time after affiliating with UPN, WSBK continued to air primarily cartoons and classic sitcoms. By 2000, WSBK was down to only a morning cartoon block, a heavy amount of talk and reality shows during the midday and afternoon hours, and more recent sitcoms in the evening along with UPN shows. The station stopped carrying cartoons in 2003, around the same time that UPN discontinued its children's program block. WSBK eliminated afternoon cartoons by 2000, and morning cartoons disappeared in 2003, when UPN discontinued the Disney's Animation Weekdays block. By 2002, the station was running a blend of talk shows, court shows, and reality shows from 9 a.m. through the late afternoon, with recent off-network sitcoms continuing in the evenings. Movies were also cut back, and were generally relegated to weekends only. Although, one tradition that remained on WSBK was the Sunday morning run of The Three Stooges.
In 2001, after Viacom merged with the previous CBS Corporation – which created a duopoly with WBZ-TV, WSBK integrated its operations into WBZ's facility in Brighton. The former WSBK studio facility is now occupied by some of corporate sibling CBS Radio's Boston radio stations. Under CBS, WSBK began sharing some first-run syndicated programs with WBZ-TV. In 2001, WSBK became the Boston home for the game shows Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy! – unusual for a UPN or independent station (Wheel and Jeopardy! had previously run on WHDH-TV). In 2009, both shows moved to WBZ-TV, swapping stations with The Insider and Entertainment Tonight, with management citing their older-skewing demographics as more closely fitting WBZ, and the younger audiences for the entertainment news programs more closely fitting WSBK.
Return to independent status
On January 24, 2006, CBS Corporation (which spun off from Viacom two months earlier) and the Warner Bros. unit of Time Warner announced that the two companies would shut down The WB and UPN and combine the networks' respective programming to create a new "fifth" network called The CW. Even though WSBK is owned by The CW's part-owner CBS, then-WB affiliate WLVI – owned at the time by Tribune Broadcasting (which sold that station to WHDH owner Sunbeam Television that September) – was announced as The CW's Boston outlet through an affiliation agreement that signed 16 of Tribune's 19 WB stations as charter affiliates. It would not have been an upset if WSBK had been chosen as Boston's CW affiliate, as representatives for The CW had been on record as preferring the "strongest" WB and UPN affiliates, and Boston was one of the few markets where the WB and UPN affiliates both had relatively strong viewership.
On February 22, 2006, News Corporation announced the launch of MyNetworkTV, another new broadcast television network to be operated by its Fox Television Stations and Twentieth Television divisions. WSBK was considered the favorite to become the network's Boston affiliate, but CBS Television Stations announced that May, that channel 38, along with WBFS-TV in Miami, would instead become independent stations. Although WBFS ultimately signed with MyNetworkTV, the MyNetworkTV affiliation in the Boston market eventually went to Derry, New Hampshire-based independent station WZMY-TV (channel 50, now WBIN-TV).
WSBK-TV officially reverted to the "TV 38" branding on September 6, 2006, and also revived its former Entertaining Boston slogan; the station continued to carry UPN programming until the network shut down on September 15. After the station reverted to independent status, WSBK's primetime lineup was filled by first-run syndicated programs (initially a second run of Dr. Phil at 8 p.m. and a second-run of Jeopardy! at 9 p.m.), and a WBZ-produced 9:30 p.m newscast. The station adopted a new ad campaign entitled Hello in September 2009, where the majority of station promotion is centered around the word "hello"; this new campaign also brought forth a mascot called the TV 38 Blockhead.
Switch to MyNetworkTV
On June 15, 2011, WBIN-TV announced that it would disaffiliate from MyNetworkTV that September to become an independent station. CBS Television Stations subsequently signed an affiliation agreement with the programming service five days later on June 20 to move its Boston area affiliation to WSBK. WSBK affiliated with MyNetworkTV on September 19, 2011 (joining Miami sister station WBFS-TV as one of two CBS-owned stations to maintain an affiliation with the service). The station's branding was amended to "myTV38", in accordance to the new affiliation.
|Channel||Video||Aspect||PSIP Short Name||Programming|
|38.1||1080i||16:9||WSBK-TV||Main WSBK-TV programming / MyNetworkTV|
WSBK-TV shut down its analog signal, over UHF channel 38, on June 12, 2009, the official date in which full-power television stations in the United States transitioned from analog to digital broadcasts under federal mandate. The station's digital signal remained on its pre-transition UHF channel 39. Through the use of PSIP, digital television receivers display the station's virtual channel as its former UHF analog channel 38.
Syndicated programming on WSBK includes Friends, The King of Queens, Judge Judy, Rachael Ray, That '70s Show and Law & Order: Criminal Intent. WSBK also occasionally takes on the responsibility of airing CBS network programming whenever WBZ-TV runs extended breaking news coverage or special programming. Examples of this practice include during the Boston Marathon, and more recently in 2009, during New England Patriots pre-season games as well as the passing of Senator Ted Kennedy and his sister Eunice Kennedy Shriver.
In terms of sports, WSBK was the longtime television home of the Boston Red Sox and Boston Bruins. WSBK became the Red Sox's over-air flagship station in 1975 and remained so for 20 years, until it lost the broadcast rights to WABU (channel 68, now WBPX-TV) in 1996. After a seven-season hiatus, WSBK (in partnership with sister station WBZ-TV) resumed its role as the Red Sox flagship station, replacing WFXT, in 2003; however channel 38 only broadcast the team's Friday night games. Most games were carried by the New England Sports Network (NESN), which aired the Friday night games outside of the Boston television market, effectively blacking out WSBK in these areas (the Red Sox hold an 80% ownership interest in NESN). Among the nationally prominent announcers that have performed play-by-play duties for the station's Red Sox games include Dick Stockton and Sean McDonough. WBZ stopped broadcasting the games after the 2004 season, and WSBK would cease airing games itself following the 2005 season, rendering the team's game telecasts cable-exclusive.
In addition to the Red Sox, WSBK was also the over-air flagship of the Boston Bruins for over thirty years. Its broadcasts were considered important enough to the station, especially in the 1970s when the Bruins were one of the perennially elite teams in the National Hockey League and enormously popular in Boston, that WSBK's then-owners Storer Broadcasting purchased and owned the Bruins for several years. The announcers for most of the Bruins games were hall-of-famer Fred Cusick (on play-by-play) and Johnny Peirson (on color commentary), who was later succeeded by Dave Shea and former Bruin Derek Sanderson; Dale Arnold called the play-by-play in later years. As with the Red Sox, Bruins coverage gradually moved to NESN. Nearly all home games were broadcast on NESN starting in 1984, and coverage left WSBK entirely in 2002.
In addition, WSBK became the over-air home of the Boston Celtics in 1993, replacing WFXT (which the team had owned at that time). It the broadcast rights in 1998 to WABU. Currently, all Celtics games not on national television are now broadcast on Comcast SportsNet New England. Since 2005, WSBK has carried Atlantic Coast Conference college football and basketball games produced and syndicated by Raycom Sports, as Boston College's move to the conference has created regional interest for the ACC.
In 2007, Major League Soccer announced that WSBK would become the exclusive carrier of the New England Revolution, replacing WLVI and Comcast SportsNet New England (then known as FSN New England). After three seasons, the Revolution moved their non-nationally televised games to Comcast SportsNet New England in 2010; it was the last Boston area professional sports team to have locally-produced over-the-air telecasts of regular-season games.
In December 2007, WSBK produced the first ever over-the-air television broadcasts of the Eastern Massachusetts High-School Football Super Bowl games, broadcasting three of the seven divisional championship contests (the other four aired on Comcast SportsNet New England). This arrangement continued through 2012; as of 2013[update], the six statewide state championship games air on Comcast SportsNet New England. Starting in 2009, audio-only simulcasts of these games began airing on sister radio station WBZ-FM (98.5 FM). The station previously aired sports replay programs called Red Sox This Week and Patriots This Week during their respective seasons; the latter program has since moved to Comcast SportsNet New England. The station broadcasts the "Fifth Quarter" postgame shows after 4:15 p.m. ET Patriots' games (due partly to WBZ's network commitments with CBS to broadcast 60 Minutes), as well as 1 p.m. Patriots games on weeks in which CBS is airing a doubleheader.
One of WSBK's most remembered past programs was the informative series Ask the Manager, created by then-general manager William J. Flynn in the mid-1970s. Each week Flynn, and later his successors Joseph C. Dimino, Daniel J. Berkery and Stuart Tauber would answer viewer questions on-air. The letters were read each week for many years by the station's announcer and host Dana Hersey. Other letter-readers included Sean McDonough and Carla Nolan. Meg LaVigne and Leslie Savage occasionally substituted in the manager's chair. The program's producer, Cliff Allen, was often referred to when off-camera, but did substitute as letter reader on many occasions. Allen died just weeks before Ask the Manager broadcast its final show in January 1999; the series finale was dedicated to his memory. Though it was long hampered by poor viewership, the show became a cult favorite. There were other attempts at local programs on WSBK through the years with shows such as We Don't Knock, A.M. Boston, and Hersey's Hollywood.
From May 2001 to August 2004, WSBK had rights to Lottery Live, the weeknight broadcasts of the Massachusetts State Lottery games. After the station moved into WBZ's studios, WSBK continued to broadcast the drawings. This was because WBZ had the games to itself for three years prior to the move. When WSBK's contract expired, the lottery drawings were moved to WCVB-TV (channel 5).
WSBK broadcasts Phantom Gourmet on weekends depending on the station's programming commitments (such as ACC college football); a half-hour version of the show has also aired at noon on weekdays since 2009. In 2007, WSBK revived Community Auditions, the local talent competition program that had run on WBZ-TV from 1965 to 1986. With series creator and former host Dave Maynard as a consultant (until his death in February 2012), the new Community Auditions is hosted by WJMN-FM (94.5) radio DJ Ramiro, with former WBZ entertainment reporter Joyce Kulhawik, WMJX (106.7 FM)'s Candy O'Terry and WODS-FM's J.J. Wright as judges. Originally airing Fridays at 9:30 p.m. during its first four years, WSBK moved the program to Saturdays at midmight for a few months in the fall of 2011, before shifting it to Sundays at 12 p.m. in February 2012. Community Auditions is also syndicated to WWLP in Springfield and WPXT-TV in Portland, Maine, and is rebroadcast on WBZ-TV on Saturdays at midnight and Sundays at 1:00 a.m.
As WIHS-TV, the station had a small news operation, featuring former WBZ-TV anchor Victor Best. After becoming WSBK-TV, the station considered producing a local, in-house 10 p.m. newscast in the 1970s. However, after determining that the broadcast would get very low ratings and lose money, Storer concluded that there was no market for a local 10 p.m. newscast in Boston.
In 1980, WSBK did begin running a nationally syndicated newscast for independent stations, Independent Network News, which was produced by New York City's WPIX and distributed by its owner Tribune Broadcasting. INN did not do well in Boston; part of the reason for the low ratings was that the newscast sometimes aired late due to Red Sox or Bruins games, putting it in direct competition with the 11 p.m. newscasts on WBZ-TV, WCVB-TV and WNAC-TV/WNEV-TV. After 1984, it also faced competition from a local 10 p.m. newscast on WLVI-TV. In January 1986, the weeknight INN broadcasts moved to WLVI, airing after that station's 10 p.m. news – before INN was dropped by the station after one year (it was not acquired by another station in the Boston market).
WSBK finally launched a 10 p.m. local newscast on October 25, 1993, by way of the WBZ-produced WBZ News 4 on TV 38, competing against both WLVI and a New England Cable News (NECN)-produced program on WFXT; this program was canceled on August 6, 1995, soon after the sale of WSBK to Paramount, as it was felt that the WBZ News 4 branding was incompatible with the then-new "UPN 38" brand. Rumors soon spread that NECN would move its 10 p.m. newscast from WFXT to WSBK; on October 2, 1995, the day after NECN's contract with WFXT expired, the regional news channel began producing UPN 38 Prime News. Lila Orbach was the original sole anchor, reprising her role on the WFXT newscast; eventually, Margie Reedy and R.D. Sahl (who were formerly paired as anchors during their tenures at WHDH-TV) took over for the remainder of its run. This newscast generally trailed both WLVI's program and, starting in 1996, an in-house newscast on WFXT; on October 4, 1998, WSBK discontinued UPN 38 Prime News in order to refocus towards sports and entertainment shows, though NECN continued to produce news updates within Bruins telecasts during the 1998-1999 season. The station replaced the 10 p.m. newscast with a two-hour late-evening comedy lineup (including Cheers and Mad About You), promoted in the fall of 1998 as Laughter Dark.
After Viacom merged with CBS, putting WSBK and WBZ-TV under the same ownership, WBZ once again began producing a newscast for the station starting in 2001. On September 3, WSBK debuted a 7 p.m. newscast; initially called THE 7 O'Clock News on UPN 38 (always emphasizing "the"), it was later rebranded as WBZ 4 News at 7 O'Clock. This newscast was replaced on March 29, 2002 by a new 10 p.m. newscast, titled Nightcast at 10 on UPN 38, which launched on April 1. On September 16, 2002, an hour-long extension of WBZ-TV's weekday morning newscast was added at 7 a.m., known as The Morning News on UPN 38.
WSBK dropped Nightcast on January 16, 2005 and turned its attention to the morning newscast, which was relaunched as The Morning Show on April 4. On September 12, the program began airing 8 to 9 a.m. to make room for the first two hours of the nationally syndicated morning show, The Daily Buzz. The Morning Show aired its last broadcast on June 30, 2006, The Daily Buzz was dropped at the same time (it would return to the market in January 2011 on WLVI, and currently airs on WBIN-TV).
When WSBK became an independent station for the second time, WBZ-TV began to produce a weeknight newscast called TV 38 News at 9:30; the newscast was then moved up a half-hour to 9 p.m. on April 23, 2007, retitled as TV 38 News at 9, and switching time slots with a second run of Jeopardy!. On August 25, 2008, the newscast became known as WBZ News on TV 38 (on occasion, it is also referred to as WBZ News at 9); it now mirrors the news programs that air on WBZ-TV, as had been the case with 10 p.m. broadcast that WBZ produced in the mid-1990s and the former 7 p.m. newscast. On December 12, 2008, the newscast began to be broadcast in high definition after WBZ upgraded its newscasts to the format. For a period starting in late-August 2009, WSBK also ran a rebroadcast of WBZ-TV's noon newscast at 12:30 p.m.; this was subsequently replaced with Judge Judy. When the station joined MyNetworkTV, WSBK moved the primetime newscast back to 10 p.m. on September 19, 2011; the newscast is now referred to as WBZ News at 10. As of September 29th, 2014, the 10:00 p.m. newscast is now an hour-long. 
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