United States cable news
In the United States, the first nationwide cable TV news channel to launch was CNN in 1980, followed by Financial News Network (FNN) in 1981 and CNN2 (now HLN) in 1982. CNBC was created in 1989, taking control of FNN in 1991. Through the 1990s and beyond, the cable news industry continued to grow, with the establishment of several other networks, including, Fox News Channel (FNC), MSNBC, and specialty channels such as Bloomberg Television, Fox Business Network, and ESPN News. More recent additions to the cable news business have been CBSN, Newsmax TV, TheBlaze, Fusion, One America News Network, part-time news network RFD-TV, and—for a time—Al Jazeera America.
As some of the most highly available channels, FNC, CNN, and MSNBC are sometimes referred to as the "big three" with CNN having the highest viewership and ratings. While the networks are usually referred to as 24-hour news networks, reruns of news programs and analysis or opinion programming are played throughout the night, with the exception of breaking news.
Regional 24-hour cable news television channels that are primarily concerned with local programming and cover some statewide interest have included Spectrum News (a brand used for multiple networks including in upstate New York, North Carolina, Florida and Texas), NY1 (which operates from New York City), News 12 Networks, FiOS1, and the former Northwest Cable News (NWCN) (which operated from Seattle). New England Cable News covers the six-state region of New England.
"Big Three" news channels
Listed by the number of viewers, the 'Big Three' cable TV news channels are:
Fox News Channel
Fox News Channel (FNC) launched on October 7, 1996, and was formed under the ownership of News Corporation (founded by Australian-born media mogul Rupert Murdoch), the fifth largest media company in the United States behind Sony, the original Viacom (now ViacomCBS), Time Warner (now WarnerMedia), The Walt Disney Company, Seagram and MGM. The network is headed by chief executive officer Rupert Murdoch. The network began broadcasting its programming in high definition in May 2008.
Since the network's launch, FNC has gradually grown to become the highest-rated cable network. FNC's former prime time lineup included programs such as The O'Reilly Factor, hosted by Bill O'Reilly, which had been a top rated program since the early 2000s when considered among major cable news channels. The channel's longtime slogans are "Fair and Balanced" and "We Report. You Decide" and their current slogans are "Most Watched. Most Trusted.", "Real News. Real Honest Opinion" and "America's Watching".
MSNBC launched on July 15, 1996, as a partnership between NBC News and Microsoft (Microsoft's stake in the channel was gradually bought out by NBC until the latter's parent NBCUniversal bought out the remaining minority stake held by Microsoft in 2011). When the network was launched, its leading hosts included Jodi Applegate, John Gibson, Tim Russert and Brian Williams. For over a decade, the network's ratings were consistently in last place among the cable news channels.
After Phil Griffin became president of MSNBC in mid-2008, the channel began shifting towards an increasingly politically liberal ideology in its analysis programming, particularly in its prime-time lineup. MSNBC launched a high definition simulcast feed on June 29, 2009.
Notable personalities on the network include Morning Joe co-hosts Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski, daytime anchors Chuck Todd and Andrea Mitchell, and evening commentators Chris Hayes and Rachel Maddow. The network was noted in the mid-2000s for its harsh criticism of then-President George W. Bush, most notably the 'special comment' segment of former anchor Keith Olbermann's show, Countdown. This, combined with accusations of support for then-President Barack Obama, have led to MSNBC being criticized[by whom?] for a liberal bias, a reputation it has increasingly embraced with its "Lean Forward" slogan (which it adopted in 2011) and open promotion of progressive and liberal ideas. This has led to MSNBC increasingly shifting towards centrism and establishment politics, displaying (subtly or otherwise) acts of hostility towards progressive politicians e.g Sen. Bernard Sanders (a frontrunner in the 2020 democratic nominations). The channel had a spin-off called Shift. Established in 2014, it was an online-only channel through its website MSNBC.com. The programming schedule was less focused on politics than the main channel, built to be a divergence from it and is more tailored to a younger audience. The channel ceased operations without notice some time before 2018.
Cable News Network (CNN) launched on June 1, 1980, as the first cable channel devoted to news programming. The Persian Gulf War in 1991 catapulted CNN into the spotlight, largely because the channel was the only news outlet with the ability to communicate from inside Iraq during the initial hours of the American bombing campaign, with live reports from the al-Rashid Hotel in Baghdad by reporters Bernard Shaw, John Holliman and Peter Arnett. Throughout the 1990s, CNN (which was at the time the only major cable news channel) became very influential, an influence later coined as the CNN effect.
CNN was the first cable news network to begin broadcasting in high definition in September 2007. Today, CNN's television personalities include Wolf Blitzer, Erin Burnett, Anderson Cooper and Jake Tapper.
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In 1982, the Turner Broadcasting System (which would merge with Time Warner in 1996) created a spin-off of CNN called CNN2, which was originally formatted to show the top news stories of the day on a 30-minute "wheel" schedule. The channel rebranded as CNN Headline News in 1983, before the network abandoned the CNN branding and changed its name to the orphaned initialism HLN in 2008, following a shift from news programming towards a mix of news during the day and discussion programs and documentary series at night that began two years earlier.
Turner founded CNN International in 1985, with a straight focus on international news stories compared to CNN, which featured an equal emphasis on U.S. and world news. CNN launched a special service on January 20, 1992 called CNN Airport Network which is available exclusively in United States airports; the service simulcasts programs from CNN and HLN, but with inserts of information of interest to air travelers. CNN also operates a Spanish language service, CNN en Español.
Turner Broadcasting also established two, now defunct networks. CNNfn, launched at the end of 1995, attempting to challenge CNBC. It ceased operations after nine years on the air in December 2004. CNNSI, a partnership between CNN and Sports Illustrated, attempted to counter the rising success of ESPNews in covering sports news. While the network was shut down, CNN and Sports Illustrated continue to maintain their partnership, with Sports Illustrated operating a sports section on CNN's website.
Starting in 2013, a major ratings decline at MSNBC has pushed that network to fourth place in March 2015.
FNC marked its 15th year as the highest-rated cable news channel in the same demographic, posting 2.8 million average total viewers in January 2017. MSNBC beat CNN in total primetime viewers, ranking sixth among all cable networks in January. CNN beat MSNBC, but trailed first place Fox News Channel, in total daytime viewers.
Other cable news channels
Blaze TV is a news and opinion network operated by Blaze Media, a joint venture between Conservative Review and Glenn Beck's Mercury Radio Arts. It began September 12, 2012 as GBTV, initially controlled solely by Beck, and formed the joint venture December 3, 2018, taking on the programming of CRTV, Conservative Review's subscription video service that had launched in October 2016. Blaze TV is explicitly conservative in perspective, with popular hosts on the network including Beck, Mark Levin, Pat Gray, Steve Deace, Steven Crowder and Phil Robertson. Blaze TV is available via Dish Network and Verizon FiOS, various smaller cable providers, and through subscription Internet television.
Free Speech TV
Free Speech TV (FSTV) is a national, independent, progressive news network that reaches more than 40 million television households in the United States. The network brands itself as "the alternative to television networks owned by billionaires, governments and corporations." It was launched in 1995 and is owned and operated by Public Communicators Incorporated, a 501(c)3 non-profit, tax-exempt organization founded in 1974. Distributed principally by Dish Network, DirecTV, and the network’s live stream at freespeech.org and on Roku, Free Speech TV has run commercial free since 1995 with support from viewers and foundations. The network claims to "amplify underrepresented voices and those working on the front lines of social, economic and environmental justice," bringing viewers an array of daily news programs, independent documentaries and special events coverage. In practice, the network's political leanings represent a left-wing perspective, with several progressive talk radio hosts having time slots on the network and the network simulcasting Democracy Now! with longtime progressive radio network Pacifica.
Fusion is owned by Univision Communications, The channel was created as a joint venture between Univison and Disney-ABC Television Group subsidiary of The Walt Disney Company and relies in part on the resources of their respective news divisions, ABC News and Noticias Univision. The channel launched in October 2013. The network's content features news, lifestyle, pop culture, satire and entertainment aimed at English-speaking millennials, including those of a Hispanic background; the channel is Univision's first major push into English-language programming. The channel features talent such as Alicia Menendez, Mariana Atencio and Jorge Ramos.
It is distributed on both Dish Network and DirecTV along with Verizon FIOS, AT&T U-Verse, Google Fiber and Cablevision/Optimum and is being provided on upcoming Disney/ESPN carriage deals with other providers. Fusion while a joint venture was ABC's third attempt at a cable news channel after Satellite News Channel and ABC News Now. (ABC pulled out of the venture in 2015.)
InfoWars began its existence in 1999 as the online outlet for conspiracy theorist and radio host Alex Jones. It began carrying a live video feed of Jones's show in the 2010s and expanded to hire other hosts in the same era. InfoWars originally was positioned as an extreme libertarian ideology (during the 2000s Jones frequently accused the George W. Bush Administration of numerous conspiracy theories including accusations that they had orchestrated the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks and in 2008 was a backer of Ron Paul's presidential campaign). Its hosts and contributors include Jones, Paul Joseph Watson, Mike Cernovich, Roger Stone, and Jerome Corsi.
Most satellite and cable providers have refused to carry InfoWars, and most social media outlets blacklisted and deplatformed the outlet in 2018. The video feed is available through the InfoWars web site and a limited number of terrestrial affiliates.
Newsmax TV debuted June 15, 2014 as a television arm of Newsmax Media, a media company better known for its magazine and website. The channel runs a mix of rolling news coverage in the afternoons, video simulcasts of conservative talk radio programs, talk shows, and reruns of documentaries. Talent on the network includes Howie Carr, Wayne Allyn Root, Joe Pagliarulo and Bill O'Reilly. Until mid-2016, it was distributed on both Dish Network and DirecTV, Dish has since dropped it. The channel does have numerous local broadcasting affiliates. A live stream of the channel is also available for free online at NewsmaxTV.com, as well as YouTube. Newsmax TV has generally been described as right-wing, broadcasting many programs hosted by conservative media personalities.
NewsNet is based in Cadillac, Michigan at WMNN-LD, a local all-news television outlet. The network launched nationally on 18 affiliates with test programming in late December 2018, with the full launch took place on January 1, 2019. NewsNet follows a traditional rolling news clock with no opinion programming. It is available, in addition to its terrestrial affiliate base, as a free channel on streaming platforms.
Newsy began in 2008 as a syndication service providing news videos to mobile and Web users. It was acquired by The E. W. Scripps Company, an owner of local television stations, in 2014 and transformed into its current form, a linear channel devoted to rolling news coverage and short-form videos. Originally distributed solely via over-the-top platforms, Newsy was offered to cable outlets beginning in late 2017.
One America News Network
One America News Network (OANN) was launched in the summer of 2013 by Herring Networks, initially under the cooperation of The Washington Times. In 2019, OAN said that it reached 35 million homes.
The channel targets a conservative and right-of-center audience. Its prime time political talk shows have a conservative perspective, and the channel regularly features pro-Donald Trump stories. The channel described itself as one of the "greatest supporters" of Trump. The channel has been noted for promoting falsehoods and conspiracy theories.
RFD-TV (Rural Free Delivery Television) is a rural-oriented television network independently owned and operated by Rural Media Group. The majority of its daytime weekday programming is devoted to news coverage, including outside-produced newscasts such as U.S. Farm Report, AgDay and This Week in Agribusiness, the network's nightly Rural Evening News, and a five-hour rolling news coverage block centered on agricultural commodities coverage with news and weather. RFD-TV is available through both national satellite providers, on a limited number of cable outlets, and through a paywalled Internet stream.
Nexstar Media Group’s News Nation is a newscast that will debut on WGN America September 1. The three-hour news program will air from 8 p.m. to 11 p.m. ET, seven days a week. NewsNationNow.com and the News Nation Now app will provide U.S. and world news updates 24/7. The team is led by veteran journalists and will draw on the local, regional and national expertise of Nexstar’s 5,400 journalists in 110 local newsrooms across the country.
Foreign cable news networks with U.S. operations
RT America (branded on air as RT) is the official arm of the Russian Federation's media organ, Russia Today. The American channel launched in 2010 and broadcasts content from both the international and United Kingdom editions of RT in addition to original programming from its American studios. Its approach is alternative and purposely contrarian in nature compared to most American news outlets. Talent on the network includes hosts Larry King, Lee Camp, Jesse Ventura, Alex Salmond and Mike Papantonio. It is available nationally on Dish Network and DirecTV and regionally on Charter Spectrum and other cable providers, and through a limited number of terrestrial affiliates that carry RT on digital subchannels. Additionally, RT America is made available through several streaming apps across many different platforms such as Roku and Android TV as well as several Blu-ray players and smart TVs. The channel's live stream is also available free on RT's website. RT has been registered as a foreign agent since November 2017.
i24NEWS is an English language international news television channel that is owned by Altice USA. It is the English version of i24NEWS, a news service based in Israel and operated as a joint venture by Israel's two most prominent commercial broadcasters. The network began broadcasting in the US on February 13, 2017. It is live from 6-10 p.m. Eastern Time and at other times broadcasts from Israel. Live programming is broadcast from Times Square in New York with an additional bureau in Washington, D.C. The channel uses resources from i24's main Jaffa headquarters. Talent includes David Shuster who is also the managing editor, Michelle Makori, and Dan Raviv. The channel acquired many of its debut behind-the-scenes talent from the former Al Jazeera America. The channel is carried on Altice USA-owned Optimum and Suddenlink cable systems and Charter Spectrum. The channel live streams via its website.
CGTN America is the American division of China Global Television Network, the English-language news channel run by Chinese state broadcaster China Central Television. It is based in Washington, D.C. and manages bureaus across North and South America. The service launched in 2012 as CCTV America and employs a mix of American, international and Chinese journalists and produces Americas-based programming with a focus on Asia for CGTN. The channel is carried on DirecTV, Dish Network, AT&T U-Verse and smaller carriers and live streams via its website and Livestream.
CNC World is an English-language network majority owned by Xinhua, the Chinese state news agency. It has a more explicit propaganda aim than CGTN and is closely intertwined with the Chinese Communist Party. Its U.S. operations are based in New York City. The channel is available through digital subchannels and a live stream on the Internet.
BBC World News
BBC World News is the BBC's international news and current affairs television channel. While the channel does not specifically target the U.S., the BBC has a bureau in Washington, D.C., and produces two programs that cover U.S. news and politics: BBC World News America and Beyond 100 Days. These shows are also broadcast on public television stations, as well as half-hour BBC World News bulletins. BBC World News has covered both U.S. presidential and midterm elections results. The BBC produces weather forecasts for the U.S. and Canada and runs advertisements on the U.S. feed, as foreign broadcasts are not covered by the United Kingdom television license. The channel is carried on Cablevision, Comcast, Spectrum, Verizon FiOS and AT&T U-Verse, as well as internet TV providers YouTube TV and Sling TV. A 2018 survey for Research Intelligencer by Brand Keys found that the BBC was the most trusted TV news brand among American viewers, beating out Fox News and PBS.
|Headquarters||Englewood Cliffs, N.J.||New York City||New York City|
|Number of Households in 2012[needs update]||97 million||57 million||68 million|
|Profits in 2008[needs update]||$350 million||$15.6 million||not reported*|
|Management||Mark Hoffman (President)||Michael Clancy (Executive Editor)||Rupert Murdoch (CEO)|
CNBC (originally an abbreviation for the Consumer News and Business Channel) was launched by NBC in 1989 after the purchase of Satellite Program Network, and merged with competitor Financial News Network that same year. It is owned by the NBCUniversal News Group, a unit of the NBCUniversal Television Group division of NBCUniversal. CNBC is the widest distributed of the business channels with about 84.27% of carriage. The channel has many international spin-offs.
CNBC gained a competitor in the financial news genre with Bloomberg Television, which was created in 1994 by Bloomberg L.P., led by former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg. It is distributed worldwide through cable, satellite and internet providers, and is headquartered in New York. Bloomberg Television was unusual in that its Internet stream, one of the few television networks to continuously offer a video feed over the Internet since the 1990s, was free to the public; the feed was placed behind a soft paywall along with the rest of Bloomberg's Internet ventures in May 2018.
Fox Business Network
FBN is the sister business network to Fox News Channel. In October 2007, News Corporation launched its own financial news network called Fox Business Network (FBN); News Corporation CEO Rupert Murdoch stated his reason for launching the channel was that CNBC is too "negative towards business", and had promised to make FBN more "business friendly".
Cheddar was established in 2017 as an initially online-only channel that operated on a freemium model with some content free and others paywalled. It was acquired by Altice USA in 2019 and, after a two-year run in which several low-powered stations owned by DTV America carried the slot, began transitioning to cable systems that year. Cheddar targets a younger audience than the other business news channels.
FBN's ratings were initially too low to be registered beyond Nielsen's margin of error; its highest viewership was estimated to be 202,000 viewers, during the 7:00 a.m. Eastern Time hour of Imus in the Morning's debut broadcast on the network in 2009. By October 2016, FBN had surpassed CNBC, as roughly a third of CNBC's viewership migrated to FBN over the course of a year, with both netting approximately 170,000 viewers. Bloomberg also does not subscribe to Nielsen and its ratings are assumed to be very low (however, its viewership was higher than CNBC's when Bloomberg's programming was simulcast on E! in the early morning hours, an arrangement that began in 2004 after USA Network ended its simulcast of the channel after ten years, and was discontinued altogether under E! in 2007). Currently, CNBC usually has between 200,000-400,000 viewers during the day. In 2000, CNBC had higher ratings than CNN during market hours. The viewership of business newscasts may be underestimated in part because much of its viewership comes from communal areas, most of which cannot be accurately measured by Nielsen and are thus not counted; for this reason, CNBC dropped its subscription to Nielsen in 2015. RFD-TV's average viewership, including for its financial market coverage as well as its non-news programming, is approximately 136,000 viewers.
Professional sports news
ESPN launched a 24-hour sports news channel named ESPNews on November 1, 1996, which is carried by most cable and satellite providers, although usually only on dedicated sports and information tiers. It airs news, highlights, press conferences and commentary by analysts all in relation to sports. ESPNews was also syndicated to regional sports networks as daytime filler programming and also often appears as blackout filler on ESPN or ESPN2 when those channels air a program unavailable in a certain geographic area.
ESPNews scaled back its news-only format in 2013, after several years of ESPN expanding its flagship newscast, SportsCenter, throughout the daytime hours on the main channel. ESPNews newscasts are now branded under the SportsCenter brand, while replays of ESPN2 talk programs typically air when SportsCenter airs on ESPN's main channel.
At least one of the ESPN networks is usually carrying a SportsCenter broadcast at any given time, with the lone exceptions being particularly busy sports days in which all three networks (ESPN, ESPN2 and ESPNEWS) are carrying sporting events and the network's multi-channel coverage of major sports events.
Fox Entertainment Group re-branded Speed Channel as FS1, a sports channel carrying both analysis shows and live sports events, on August 13, 2013. The studio programs are usually pushed to its sister station, FS2, when live sports are occurring during the broadcast. FS2 acts primarily as an overflow network for FS1, airing their studio programs when they cannot air on FS1 due to schedule conflicts, and also airs reruns of FS1 programming. However, FS2 does air live sports as well, most often from outside the United States.
Fox Sports has, three times in its history, attempted to launch a national sportscast. The first two aired on Fox Sports Net: the National Sports Report from 1996–2002, and Final Score from 2006–2011. The third, Fox Sports Live, aired on FS1 from the network's launch until 2017.
Originally launched as the Outdoor Life Network in 1995, re-branded in 2006 as Versus and re-branded yet again in 2012 as NBC Sports Network, the name was finally abbreviated to NBCSN. Unlike NBC, which airs reruns of the most anticipated Olympic events of the day, NBCSN airs Olympic events live. The network also extensively covers the National Hockey League and the Premier League in England, also carrying limited college football, basketball and hockey. NBCSN also airs news & analysis programming; since parent company Comcast purchased British broadcaster Sky plc in 2019, NBCSN has simulcast Sky Sports News during the early afternoon hours. Unlike ESPN and Fox, the network does not have a flagship, all-sport newscast, with its news and discussion programs generally centered around individual sports. The network's attempts at general-purpose shows have typically been short-lived.
During NBC and NBCSN's coverage of the Olympic Games, sister network Olympic Channel (and before that, its predecessor Universal Sports) flips to an all-sports news format, providing summary coverage of the day's Olympic events.
CBS Sports Network / CBS Sports HQ
CBS Sports Network was founded as College Sports TV. It still maintains a primary focus on college sports, but has since broadened to include general studio discussion shows, simulcasts of CBS Sports Radio talk shows, and some lower-end professional sports.
On February 26, 2018, CBS Sports launched CBS Sports HQ, an Internet-only channel that serves as a 24-hour channel for sports news, highlights and discussion programs, without any live sports.
College sports news
ESPNU is a 24-hour sports news network dedicated to college sports. ESPN airs a customized version of SportsCenter, SportsCenter U, covering college sports, as well as documentaries about college teams and players.
Big Ten Network
The Big Ten Network, whose origins can be traced back to '03, airs a large amount of original sports programming, including a program similar to SportsCenter called Big Ten Tonight, as well as live sports. Unlike other college sports channels, such as ESPNU or BTN's sister station Fox College Sports, BTN covers the Big Ten Conference exclusively.
Fox College Sports
Fox College Sports (FCS) airs an extremely large amount of live sports. Because Fox Sports has so many rights to so many college sporting events, FCS networks are split by region, similar to Fox Sports.
Three years after the launch of the Longhorn Network, ESPN entered a similard joint venture with the Southeastern Conference, also known as the SEC. While it does broadcast over 20 different SEC sports, it also airs analysis of upcoming games as well as a sports talk show. Some SEC Network football games are simulcast on WDCW.
The Pac-12 Network covers every sport in the PAC-12 as well as every team in the conference, airing nearly 900 live events a year. With the vast number of events in the PAC-12, the Pac-12 Network has been split into six separate regional channels.
The ACC Network covers every sport in the ACC as well as every team in the conference. The network features films and mini documentaries on the ACC sports teams. The ACC Network also airs games from the ACC schools.
The Weather Channel
The Weather Channel is the market leader in news regarding weather forecasting and the most widely distributed cable network in the United States. It was launched in August 1982, under the ownership of Landmark Communications (which sold the network to a joint venture of NBCUniversal, Blackstone Group and Bain Capital in 2008; these parties, in turn, split the channel, with the non-broadcast assets going to IBM in 2016 and the channel itself going to Byron Allen's Entertainment Studios in 2018).
Originally, the channel was devoted entirely to weather forecasts and news coverage (with computer-generated local forecasts inserted through each individual cable provider every ten minutes, and previously at randomized time intervals, ten times an hour), but since 2001, the network has increasingly cut back its weather coverage in favor of reality television and documentary series (this reliance on such programs has led to carriage disputes between Dish Network and DirecTV in the early 2010s, the latter resulting in the channel's first provider defection, citing subscriber complaints regarding The Weather Channel's shift away from forecast programs). Most of the channel's morning and at least part of its afternoon lineup remains devoted to weather news coverage and national forecasts.
Since the 2000s, there have been several other attempts to launch weather-centric television channels.
The Local AccuWeather Channel
The Local AccuWeather Channel was distributed mainly as a digital subchannel on various terrestrial television outlets. Content on local versions of The Local AccuWeather Channel vary widely, ranging from a mix of local and national AccuWeather content (such as WFAA) to all-local, automated outlets (such as WFMZ-TV). Now largely deprecated, it is unknown as of January 2020 (when WFAA dropped its affiliation) whether any affiliates still carry the national AccuWeather Channel over the air.
AccuWeather Network is a national version of the AccuWeather channel. The network broadcasts pre-recorded national and regional weather forecasts, analysis of ongoing weather events, and weather-related news, along with local weather segments for mostly the Northeastern United States. It is currently on Verizon FIOS and DirecTV.
WeatherNation TV, originally known as The Weather Cast, also uses this model (having taken the place of The Local AccuWeather Channel as the affiliation of certain stations' weather channels since 2013), although it also provides a feed directly to cable providers and directly to consumers through mobile and smart-TV apps. A national feed is available on Dish Network.
NBC Weather Plus
Before NBC and its partners acquired The Weather Channel, NBCUniversal operated NBC Weather Plus, a digital multicast service that operated from 2004 to 2008 (continuing thereafter as a locally programmed service using Weather Plus' graphics system called NBC Plus).
- Big Three television networks
- Cable television in the United States
- Communications in the United States
- Fourth television network
- High-definition television in the United States
- International broadcasting
- List of television stations in the United States
- List of United States cable and satellite television networks
- List of United States over-the-air television networks
- List of United States television markets
- Satellite television in the United States
- Television in the United States
- Television news in the United States
- Category:24-hour television news channels in the United States
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