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AOL/Time-Warner Won't Advertise Competition 199

Posted by michael
from the what-did-you-expect? dept.
mojo-raisin writes: "According to this article on ISPworld, AOL/Time-Warner is refusing to run advertisments for small and medium-sized dial-up and DSL service providers on their cable network. This practice is reported to have begun shortly after the merger announcement last year, and is taking place in New York, Texas and Wisconsin."
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AOL/Time-Warner Won't Advertise Competition

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  • by Anonymous Coward

    Hi, I run a milk bar. I refuse to stock curry powder simply because of the fact that it gives me stomach pains. If you don't like it, get the fuck out of my shop.

    Was this post supposed to mean something, or was he just making some random statement about his profession?

  • by Anonymous Coward

    This is why government should have a firm role in ensuring that large companies are kept under control.

    Citizens have rights. Corporations have no rights.

  • by Wakko Warner (324) on Thursday June 07, 2001 @03:00AM (#169708) Homepage Journal
    He's an oil baron. Asking an oil baron to take action against a monopoly would be like asking Tony Soprano what's up with the garbage industry.

    --
    Forget Napster. Why not really break the law?

  • Bah. *waves paw*

    All you're doing is supporting their stock price. They're not going to listen to you. You can't get enough shares to matter.

  • by Enry (630)
    Sorry, thanks for playing.

    A corporation is an entity separate from its shareholders (which is why people list companies as defendents of lawsuits and not the shareholders). The shareholders have rights, but no more rights than non-shareholders.
  • And this makes it worse than CNN, how?

  • Not to mention that ISPs should certainly be subject to the same common carrier status.

  • If you're poor, I would assume that meant you didn't have $52.28 to spend buying a piece of paper. As a college student supporting myself and making less than $9K a year, even $10 was a lot of money and not to be squandered.


    Rev. Dr. Xenophon Fenderson, the Carbon(d)ated, KSC, DEATH, SubGenius, mhm21x16
  • How is this a bad thing, except for their competitors? The networks are their property, why shouldn't they be able to do what they want with it.

    bah!

    /. really has become "News for whiners, stuff that only makes sense in some bullshit utopian Star Trek world."

    --
    If your map and the terrain differ,
    trust the terrain.
    Unless you're a /.er, of course, in which case you should whine that the terrain should conform to your map, but not actually what is shown on your map, but what you interpret the map to really mean. And if the Earth is so evil as to not conform to your imagined reality, it should be forced to. Because as we all know, freedom is good, unless it's someone else's freedom.

  • What is wrong with Fox News?
  • There's a difference.

    Let's say you live in a tiny little town in NY State, that gets cable through TimeWarner. There's a good chance that you cannot get *cable* TV through another provider. It's simply not offered.

    TimeWarner has a monopoly on cable in your area.

    Let's say you just moved there from out-of-state, so you'r not familiar with the area, area businesses, etc...

    Now, let's say that AOL/TW doesn't offer broadband services in this small town - only "basic" cable (of course with pay channels, PPV, etc...), and that AOL doesn't have a local dialup to that town.

    AOL/TW isn't a valid ISP for your area.

    But - they refuse to accept advertizing money from people who *are* valid ISPs for you, even though they're not in direct competition for *your* business. If they can't advertize themselves to you (which they will do anyway, regardless of whether it's available to you) they sure as hell won't advertize competition.

    That's illegal use of a monopoly.

    That's what this is all about.

    As long as you're not a monopoly, you can generally do whatever you want to do - within reason, of course ("reason" being defined by shareholders, normally, not by morality) - but once you become a monopoly, special rules apply to you, because as a monopoly, you have a LOT more power to do the "wrong" things.

    Budweiser doesn't have a monopoly on beer (sad day if they did!) =)

    AOL/TW does have a monopoly on cable/broadband service in many areas, and dialup ISP service in some.

    That's why they're governed by different rules.

    Of course, I'm just waiting for AT&T to merge with them...AOL/TW is scary...AOL/AT&T/TW is *much* scarier. Sad thing is, it would make sense, seeing the direction things with AOL/TW are taking. THe first of the super-conglomerates is testing the waters right now - seeing what it can, and can't get away with. With Dubya in office, they've got at least 4 years before something else is done about them (He comes from Big Oil, where monopolies are VERY common - he won't do a damn thing about monopolies abusing their power) - by that time, I have this sinking feeling it'll be too late.

  • Of course milk costs more than gasoline, have you ever compared the taste?
  • by unitron (5733)
    "...and if the town/city sees that it's in the public interest to remove them or allow a second or third cable company in, they will do so."

    Except, of course, for all those communities where the shareholders in the original cable companies that eventually got bought up by the big companies were the friends and relatives of the mayors and councilcritters and still are.

  • When cable channels, whether owned by the same company as owns the local cable company or not, run commercial breaks, some of the time is filled with ads sent along by that channel just like the program, and some of the time is empty space available for the local cable company to sell to local advertisers. These are the slots being denied to local ISPs who are in competition with some part of the business empire of the parent company of the local cable company.
  • It's called "must pay, must carry". The local cable company has to carry the local broadcast channels and must pay them for doing so. I didn't say it made sense. The NAB used RIAA-type logic to convince the FCC and the Congress that, in addition to being allowed to sell commercial time on their broadcast that uses public property (the airwaves), they should be allowed to force the local cable company to make them (the local broadcaster) available to even more viewers (allowing the broadcasters to charge more for that commercial time), and to be compensated by the cable company for being allowed to re-transmit the broadcaster's signal (which means a larger audience for the braodcaster and higher prices for commercials on that broadcaster's broadcast). There's a little room for negotiation, like UHF channels agreeing to be paid less to be carried on the cable in an available VHF (channels 2-13) slot.

    It's sort of like you have to work overtime and your employer charges you 1.5 times your hourly rate for each hour of overtime you work while telling you with a straight face that they're doing you a favor by giving you the opportunity to gain extra practice and experience in your craft.

  • "I bet if you got out your phone book and started calling around you can get a all non AOL/Time Warner internet and cable setup."

    For most of us that would be a long-distance phone call to some far away community to which we would have to relocate to get that "...all non AOL/Time Warner internet and cable setup". Most places that have cable only have one cable company running along the right-of-way at any given address, and if that cable company doesn't offer "cable modem" service, you can't get it from anybody else. And chances are that the only local phone company doesn't offer anything faster than (or even different from) dial-up over POTS either.

  • And Colin Powell's son Michael is one of the FCC commissioners.
  • As it is, Fox News Channel is blocked in many parts of New York City/New Jersey Suburbs b/c Warner does cable service here and isn't a fan of Rupert Murdoch(sp). This is really annoying, being that I wanted the other side of the news coverage (not MSNBC and CNN's extra bias)
  • Either way it just makes them looks daft and insecure. Personally I tend to believe that companies should be allowed to shoot themselves in the foot like this - if the public is aware of their actions. Unfortunately I bet most of this type of thing goes largely unnoticed.

    Ahh well... OPENpolicy? All business policies have to be available to the public in electronic form if you run a million dollar+ business a year? Yikes... J/K
  • You're correct, of course. But even if the government tried to do something to fix this, they'd likely end up persecuting innocent small businesses and letting the guilty mega corporations off. Just look at the examples we've seen of "zero tolerance" in schools. The bullies still do what they've always done and 2nd graders get suspended for pointing a chicken finger at someone. This is the way of government: identify the problem, craft a completely screwed up solution, problem solved!
  • Has anyone seen Headline News since the merger? It used to be a dependable source of real news.

    Are you sure? Maybe you're thinking of a different Headline News than the one I know.

  • Because since the US is so profit-driven

    You *almost* see the problem. The problems we have are not because the government is not structured properly. Our problems come as a result of our immoral society. No amount of government intervention is going to make a difference at this point.

    Think about speed limit laws. So many people spurn them that it would take an enormous amount of resources to enforce. And think of what it would be like to live under a system that *did* have enough resources to enforce things that were not considered to be immoral by a majority. Greed is certainly not considered to be immoral by most people.

    A moral government would not protect the poor from the rich or vice versa. A moral government would punish all evil regardless of the who, where, when, or why. This is something almost no one will accept.

    You want to change things? Forget the government--change the people directly because it is your only hope.

  • Actually I can't stand to use AOL and I curse TW everymonth my cable comes. However I think it is the right of the owner of a website to choose what is and what isn't advertised on their websites. From the article is makes it sound as if AOL/TW run websites are not running competing ads and I think that is their right. MSNBC shouldn't be required to run ads for CNN on the msnbc website (I think the article uses the Weather channel as an example).

    If I misread the article to say that websites not owned by TW/AOL but that are using TW/AOL backbone are being forced to not accept advertisers that compete with AOL/TW then I think that is wrong.

    However the article didn't seem to state that.
  • and that is there perogative. But its not required by law.
  • even then, they only have control over THEIR channels (weather channel, cnn, etc). Why should they have to run an ad if they don't want to, who cares their reason for not running it. Its their station.
    They can't control stations not owned by them (MTV,VH1,ESPN), so its not like the dsl providers can't take their ball and leave.

    Whether you talk about the web, tv or print media, the owner of the media (the web site, the tv station, the newspaper) should have the final say in what does and doesn't get published.

    As long as they don't own every channel on the dial there will always be somewhere else to advertise.

    Whether this is a good business practice isn't important, if they want to allienate people they should be able to.
  • True. Good point. My bad.
  • by CodeMonky (10675)
    While I don't like the fact that they appear to be giving people who want to use/resell their cable network I don't see why they should HAVE to run any ad if they don't want to. If they don't want to run an ad for a dsl provider on the weather channels web page than that is their right since it is their site. I hardly think refusing to run ads for the competition should be considered an anti-trust violation.

    I wonder if linux.com would run an ad for WindowsXP?
  • Um, sorry, thanks for playing. Rights are defined by society (or endowed by the Creator, if you lean that way), but they're definitely not a result of paying taxes. If that were the case, then poor people who had no taxes for a year would have no rights for that year.

    The argument could be better phrased as: currently society affords corporations some rights, in some cases rights which provide corporations an advantage over ordinary citizens. Does society still believe that this is how things should be?

    Caution: contents may be quarrelsome and meticulous!

  • The difference is that VA Linux isn't the only game in town. If you couldn't run your ads on VA Linux properties, you could run them elsewhere. If you can't run your ads on AOL/TW cable, and they have the monopoly in your area, then you can't run them anywhere.

    Monopolies have to play by different rules, otherwise they'd end up owning us all.

    Caution: contents may be quarrelsome and meticulous!

  • Perhaps I'm misunderstanding the principle of logic here, but I deny that taxes => rights because it isn't true. Rights aren't defined in terms of the taxes that you pay in the USA. It is not impossible that some society would have such an arrangement, but that is not currently the case in the U.S.

    Caution: contents may be quarrelsome and meticulous!

  • Hmmm...when I watch cable, I'm watching my local TV stations much of the time. Are you telling me that TW is censoring the ads run by (in my case) WMAR or WJZ?

    If you're watching local TV through your cable connection, then TW could indeed refuse to carry local stations that run ads for competing ISPs, although I don't allege that this is occurring. It's possible, though.

    For sure they're not controlling billboards, radio (well, they probably have some influence there), newspapers, magazines, and guys walking up and down wearing sandwich boards. Contrary to what your cable company may tell you, they are far from the only game in town when it comes to advertising, and most especially when it comes to local and regional advertising, which is, after all, the topic here.

    The big problem here is that AOL/TW is using a monopoly (in some areas, at least) in cable television access to help create a monopoly in Internet access. I guess the issue hinges on whether the market is all kinds of local advertising, or just local television advertising.

    Caution: contents may be quarrelsome and meticulous!

  • The issue is not whether or not this hurts AOL/TW's competitors, as it most certainly does. The issue is who has ownership (and thusly control) over AOL/TW's cable network. Should The Washington Post be forced by the policing powers of government to run ads for The Washington Times against their management's will? Of course not. In cases like this, the stakes are high. The government must set a strong precedent. I hope, for the sake of both the American people and the business that they fairly operate, that government takes a back seat to property rights and common sense. sm
  • Bullshit! What we need is for people to take responsibility for their own lives. What is wrong with a corporation deciding how to use its own property? Is Budwiser going to start placing Miller Lite ads on it's beer cans? Of course not. But by your argument, the government should step in and force such things to happen.

    It is the government's first and foremost duty to protect the constitutional rights of the individual against the tyranny of the majority. Unfortunately, the government has failed at even this.

    "Remember that there is no such dichotomy as "human rights" versus "property rights." No human rights can exist without property rights. Since material goods are produced by the mind and effort of individual men, and are needed to sustain their lives, if the producer does not own the result of his effort, he does not own his life. To deny property rights means to turn men into property owned by the state. Whoever claims the "right" to "redistribute" the wealth produced by others is claiming the "right" to treat human beings as chattel."

    Ayn Rand

    sm
  • by rbb (18825)
    This is exactly the kind of anti-competitive practice that should be attacked right away from the top. Abuse of market power on this level is definately something the government should get involved with.

    The FTC should be all over AOL TW again and force them to get these ads run on Time Warner Cable.
    --
  • The same reason why subscription magazines that are mailed to you include those tear out subscription cards. Sure they could tear them out and save on shipping, but what if a friend is reading your magazine and decides he wants a copy?

    What if a friend is at your house watching TV and decides he likes the cable service you've got? The point is since they own the service putting in ads of their own costs next to nothing, and if it catches a few extra subscribers more power to them.
  • Hmmm Catch-22. Are they allowed to? Aren't the companies under some fiduciary liability to make sure their stock holders make as much money as possible? If they report things that make their own stock go down aren't they guilty of wrongdoing to their stockholders? Or even if they reported something good about their company couldn't that be seen as stock manipulation by the SEC?
  • Controlled by an equally big and dirty company, NEWS Corp.
  • Because Cable companies are given a local monopoly, meaning that there are zero other sources for cable. If they are not allowed to advertise on that medium, the local ISP have effectively been cut from the market. It is very anti-competitive. Coca-Cola not shipping Pepsi does nothing to prevent Pepsi from being competitive. Coca-Cola and Pepsi cannot stop each other from advertising on TV or stop a third party say RC Cola from advertising there as well, why should AOL/Compuserve and MSN stop RC ISP from advertising as well. Too bad the FTC is too meak and whipped to do anything about this enfraction.
  • ...there was a similar case a few years ago with regard to TV companies having to accept adverts for their rivals on an equal footing to, say, dogfood.

    This is because we have a government watchdog system. Firstly, do you have anything similar in the US? Secondly, I wonder what will happen to trans-national services such as web content prooviders.
    --
  • No, you're thinking of reimbursments for easements.
    The 1%-3% goes to the city, additionally cable companies also kick back additional funds that are used to fund the public access cable channel, and buy equipment.
    The fees collected can be used for just about anything the city/community desires. Very rarely do they ever use these funds to compensate people directly for having poles in their yard, etc.
  • by BrK (39585) on Thursday June 07, 2001 @03:32AM (#169760) Homepage
    Although the cable company may no longer sponsor your little league team, cable companies *do* pay franchise fees (1%-3% of subscription, typ.) to the community they operate in. DBS/Satellite companies do *not* pay any fees to the communities that subscribe to the service.

    So, your community *is* getting money from the cable company that is roughly tied to the size of the subscriber base (if they're not getting this money, then your community employs the most ignorant contract negotiators in the world.)

    That being said, I still prefer DBS...

  • by Hard_Code (49548) on Thursday June 07, 2001 @04:13AM (#169763)
    "What's to say that a bunch of poor people can't all buy stock and vote as a block?"

    The idea that people shouldn't have to buy power with money. That's why we have governments - to equally represent all people. Poor people would much rather be *feeding* and *clothing* themselves than fighting off mega corporations.
  • by solios (53048) on Thursday June 07, 2001 @06:20AM (#169764) Homepage
    Yeah, Comcast won't plug on DTV, but you know what you get instead? DirectTV ads. Yes, they plug themselves. Primestar, TCI, Dish Network.... everybody does it. It's their service, they can do it if they want to. (The interesting bit is that if you happen to have cable and dish running side by side on the same channel, you'll notice that the cable company plugs and the dish company plugs occur in the same slot of time).

    This is primarily geared for people like myself, who don't have cable or satellite service. Unlike most people, I don't want it or need it- but say I'm at a friend's house and we happen to be watching Doctor Who on BBC America. The DTV plug comes up and I realize, "hey! If *I* get DTV, I can watch Doctor Who!" It's incidental advertising, targeting not the actual person paying for the service, but those who aren't who happen to be "using" it anyway.

    So from that standpoint, with AOL on the ISP end and Time Warner running the pipes, it seems to me that disavowing local ISPs to advertise makes perfect sense. Do you see Dish Network ads on DirectTV? Earthlink banner ads on the Stargate web site?

    Yeah, it may suck- but the local companies still have the local stations and radio to advertise on.
  • by cansecofan22 (62618) on Thursday June 07, 2001 @02:57AM (#169766) Homepage
    This could become a BIG problem. Just think about it. AOL/Time warner have a lot of things under there control. What if they told CNN they could not run stories that made AOL/Time Worner look bad. The effects of this merger are just now being seen but I think they could get A LOT worse than refusing air time to competitors. This is one mega company that we should keep a very close eye on and hope the Bush administration will support the people who are hurt by these type of business practices. Only time will see.
  • This has nothing to do with monopolies. It's just the natural and healthy survival of the fittest that has always been the core of capitalism.

    While mergers, acquisitions and growth are certainly a healthy component of a capitalist, it is somewhat rash to assume that the consequences of these free market operations are justified simply because of they occur in the free market. The notion of certain industries (especially those with high fixed cost and low marginal cost) shifting toward monopoly is one of which economists have been acutely aware of for decades. The same economists who champion what appears to be your ideal; a "laissez faire" economy, are vigilant in their attempt to maintain a market that is conducive to healthy competition. It is generally agreed that monopolistic practices are one's which preclude market forces from operating in way that benefits the consumer. While the shift toward monopoly may be one which is a cause of natural capitalist tendencies, the emergence of a monopoly works to stifle those tendencies. Herein lies the tension between regulation and allowing markets to operate in as natural a way as possible. Your argument, and this article, both offer an all too lucid demonstration of this tension in operation.
  • So why are they advertising their basic service to their subscribers?

    Well actually its' done for an even dumber reason than you think.

    While it is possible that these ads may be viewed by someone else in your house watching TV that's not really what they're for. What happens is that Comcast guys realise that while you are watching their service there is ads for other providers on various channels. Seeing as though you are such a sheep (as we all are) chances are you'll want to switch over to cable or another dish provider just because you viewed the other guy's ad. They are advertising at you to get you to stay, they figure their quality of service isn't as powerful as the other guy's marketing messages so they need to keep sending you their message.

    Pretty sad really.
  • The do tell CNN not to run stories that make them look bad. All of the media conglomerates do this and the practice dates back to the newspaper barons.
  • But ABC does run ads for all the big movie companies, not just Disney.

  • No. This is not about AOL refusing to run ads for Earthlink to their subscribers, this is about Time Warner refusing to run ads on the CABLE SYSTEM about ISPs other than Roadrunner and AOL. No one is saying that AOL and Roadrunner have an obligation to run ads for other ISPs, the issue is the media outlet.

    What if Roadrunner blocked access to Foxnews.com? Would that be ok because Fox is a competitor to the media outlet of AOL/Time Warner?

  • I don't see why they should HAVE to run any ad if they don't want to.

    I think it's a matter of degree. In a competitive environment with several roughly equal competitors, yeah, you're right, everything else being equal, they shouldn't have to.

    I think the problem is that AOL/Time-Warner is getting so big that if AOL/Time-Warner refuses to run their competitors ads, their competitors are out of business.

    In theory, IMO, IANAL, this is where anti-trust laws start to kick in.

  • DUH!!! Like this makes sense to me. It really surprises me that people can complain ahout something like this. AOL/Time Warner advertising for other providers is like asking Coke to advertise for Pepsi! I know, AOL/Time Warner is a huge comapany, but so are Coke and Pepsi. Also, if I were a medium sized ISP and I was offered to run ads for a smaller ISP what do you think I'd do? All companies in the same industry, big and small, compete with each other. How do you think that Microsoft was built? Do you think they were that big in one day?? Have you even seen Pirates of the Silicon Valley?? Asking the bigger one to advertise for a smaller one that can one day get as big or bigger then the bigger one would be suicide!
  • I don't know where you are from, but Time Warner, at least in my area, DOESN'T have a monopoly anymore in my area in broadband or Cable. There's another company in my area called Americast (whose was bought by someone other then Time-Warner). I can choose between those two anywhere in my area. The only exception to this is if you live in a apartment (this may have or will soon change). If your in an apartment, you have to accept whatever the apartment is wired for (be it warner or americast).

    Also, Ameritech and several other companies all offer DSL and everywhere in the US can choose from SEVERAL Dss dish vendors.

    My point is that AOL/Time-warner have NO monopoly. The only way they do is if you choose NOT to do any research and just accept them. I bet if you got out your phone book and started calling around you can get a all non AOL/Time Warner internet and cable setup.

  • Because some shows have national commercials that will run ANYWHERE.. so if say Earthlink ran that then the cable company can't block it with their own commercial.

    Now for the spots that the cable company is allowed to fill with their advertising, I don't see a problem with this at all..


    --

  • Then I see no problem with what they're doing..
    --
  • by Sc00ter (99550) on Thursday June 07, 2001 @05:47AM (#169789) Homepage
    Except that an ISP isn't a Cable TV or a telephone service.
    --
  • by hexx (108181) on Thursday June 07, 2001 @05:15AM (#169793)
    The New York Times does not run ads for the New York Post.

    The Mormons do not advertise for the Baptists.

    It's common practice to not shoot yourself in the foot.

    Yes this leads to biased journalism, but the media has been this way since the old Newspaper Barons.

    This is hardly newsworthy.

  • Wait, what is this? A voice of REASON?

    Sheesh, this has been going on forever. Radio stations don't have commercials for other stations!

    Yes this leads to biased journalism, but the media has been this way since the old Newspaper Barons.

    If they were worried about biased journalism, they most likely wouldn't be reading Slashdot in the first place.

    -- Dr. Eldarion --
  • Allright, fine. Sometimes networks have both a radio and tv station. You don't see them advertising other tv stations on their radio station, or other radio stations on their TV station.

    That's cross-market, and it certainly happens frequently.

    -- Dr. Eldarion --
  • It's a tricky deal really. The question comes down to if this is illegal or not. Ad companies kiss ass to the powers that be all the time.

    For example, Peta (even with very mild, and generally unoffensive ads) is routinely rejected from Broadcast and Print ads.

    In some cases both Pro-Life and Pro-Choice recieve the same treatment. So, it's not new that the content of the message (even if it's not designed to offend) can be knocked off the air.

    The question really comes down to state laws and agreements they have in the cities and states they are in.
  • That's trusting the fox to run the henhouse. News agencies routinely regurgitate corprate press releases as news, Movie studios curry favor and manipulate journalists to generate the quotes they need to sell their movies:

    Leprecaun IV
    "The best movie ever" -- Studio Shill Press

    And some studio's go as far as inventing their own journalists.

    Get real, I know some journalists have ethics, but I also know that there is always someone willing to trade in their ethics for job stability.
  • Time Warner has been doing this in my local market for quite some time (years.) National ISP adds would usually get played, but it was impossible for any ISP who didn't purchase Nationwide "coverage" (if that's what they call it in the TV World.)

    Local ISP's have been griping for quite some time that they can only get airtime on the big broadcast stations.

    It has happened ever since Time Warner locally rolled out Cable Modems, and started considering local ISP's competition.

    While it would be nice to try and tie this practice in with the "merger" (hehe) with AOL, I don't think that's quite justified.

    -Pete
  • The problem with your analogy is that when you buy shares in a company, you've created a conflict of interest for yourself. The people who own these corporations aren't usually "evil" in themselves. But in the course to make more money for themselves and their shareholders they do things which society/consumers do not agree with. Once you become a shareholder its becomes much harder to weigh the decions the company makes vs. whether your stock price goes up or down.

    When you vote, you vote for who you want. You don't vote for the other guy and then try to change his policies from the inside. Therefore there's no conflict of interest: your interest is your represenative's interest. When you buy shares to uphold ideals, you're interested in not loosing your money and you're interested in doing things which may not be as profitable.

    The only way to make impact by buying shares is to buy shares in companies that do what you beleive. In this case maybe regional DSL providers. But thats why this issue is a problem. Even if you support the local guys and give them money which they might use the advertise. They can't compete becasue they've been locked out of advertising by their monopoly competitor.

  • If there was ever a clear cut case for prosecution under the Sherman Anti-Trust Act, this is it. The company in question holds near-monopoly power over the dial-up internet service provider industry and is using that power (and extension into other markets) to squeeze out the competition. Let's see them chalk this one up to "innovation."
  • While AOL obviously cannot be expected to advertise for other ISPs on, say, AOL, the fact that AOL Time Warner is locking their ads out of cable markets is blatantly monopolistic.

    It's difficult for me to see how AOL Time Warner could think this wouldn't raise the ire of the Justice Department. Are they so confident that they'll be too tied up with MS for years to deal with this? Or do they know something we don't, and think they'll lose horrible on MS's appeal, and be too castrated to take on AOL Time Warner?

    Remember, this isn't the only anti-competitive action they've taken in recent history, and they've even been investigated for some of them (Time Warner's discontinuation of ADSL was overridden by FTC, for example).

    The only other thing I can think of is that they figure going after the little guys (they're reputed to be in negotiations with the big providers to do advertising) is a safe bet, because the mom and pops don't have the cash to lobby to bring this to antitrust's attention.
  • If (and last time I check they do) corporations pay taxes, corporations have rights

    So does this mean that Microsoft has no rights [billparish.com]?

    ---
    DOOR!!
  • Again, another shining example of denying the antecedent. Microsoft did pay taxes. They simply paid $0. They had to file. They had tax liability. However, due to IRS laws, they found a way to reduce that tax liability to zero, as did other corporations.

    No, Microsoft did not pay taxes. A payment of $0 is not a payment. By your flawed logic, it could be said that, for example, people who download Metallica MP3s are paying Metallica for these downloads. They're just paying $0.

    ---
    DOOR!!
  • I remember the arguments from magazine publishers about the BBC - who are funded by the tv licence fees, and run no independent commercials - running adverts for the BBC's own TV listings magazine, "Radio Times", on its own channels. It was resolved by them merely adding the phrase "Other TV listings magazines are available", in small print in the corner of the screen for a few seconds.

    Maybe they'll get around this one in a similar way.

  • For sure they're not controlling... magazines... .

    You make a good point about local ads, but AOL/Time-Warner owns several magazines. For example, "Time" leaps to mind. The only other one I can think of is "Entertainment Weekly", but there are plenty of others.

  • The question is whether or not TW can stop you from advertising in East Hogjowl, Nebraska, and my contention is that they cannot.

    I will grant you your conclusion, but I think you have the wrong question. To be found liable for anti-competitive behavior under current law, one is not required to have a monopoly on all advertising media, just one.

    I suppose we could debate whether such a law is "right" or "wrong", but that moves us into territory that's a bit too philosophical for my taste.

  • by WildBeast (189336) on Thursday June 07, 2001 @03:08AM (#169828) Journal
    And if MS refuses to advertise AOL on their Windows desktop, all of a sudden it becomes illegal to do so, they're abusing their monopoly power, antitrust violation, etc.
    You think MS is Dr evil? They're just "mini Me" compared to the others.
  • They may have a monopoly on the wires that run the cable network in Manhattan, but they do not have a monopoly on the channels available. If a TW channel won't carry ads for competing services, then there is likely to be a Disney channel that would be more than glad to sell commercial time for that ad in the same market. Although, given TW's recent shenanigans with Disney in the Manhattan market during contract negotiations, I think they should be required by the FCC to run commercials for anyone who can pay the money. Of course, this probably violates their "right" to free speech, which includes the right NOT to say something they don't want to.
  • by ichimunki (194887) on Thursday June 07, 2001 @05:37AM (#169833)
    No stake except that their golfing buddies and relatives are still heavily invested. Not to mention campaign contributors. Who do you think gave Bush enough money to edge out McCain in the first place? From my informal sense of public opinion, McCain wouldn't have needed the Republican appointees on the Supreme Court to hand him the presidency. He would have handily crushed Al Gore.

    If you honestly believe that after years of living with, working with, and hanging out with oil industry moguls and having an immense personal stake (even if it now "sold") in the oil industry that Bush and Cheney are anywhere near approaching objective on the issue of oil, then you are seriously delusional. Of course, as Americans, we all have a stake in the oil industry. Without oil we wouldn't even have server farms to worry about during blackouts, or SUV's, or highway systems to drive them on. Okay, well we might have them, but not at the incredible prices we have them now. I mean a gallon of gas costs less than a gallon of milk-- that's a bargain.
  • The Comcast cable service in my area advertises their cable services to current cable subscribers on 'cable' channels such as Sci Fi, TNN, etc. I'm not talking the upgrade services like digital and cable modem access. I'm talking about actual basic cable subscription. These are channels you can only get while subscribed to a pay service such as cable. So why are they advertising their basic service to their subscribers? You won't find Comcast advertising on DirecTV.

    It's like if AOL popped up an ad when you log in informing you that you can try AOL for 700 hours FREE!!!

  • The only barrier to entry is money.
    No it's not. Try advertising liquor on Saturday mornings, phone sex in prime time, or the Nazi Party anytime.

    A lot of companies pick and choose their advertisers for a lot of reasons, and not flacking for their competitors is a damned good one.

    If, as has been mentioned above, VA Linux chooses to advertise for other competetive companies, I presume that it's based on the idea that a rising Linux tide lifts all boats, not because they find it morally compelling to accept any and all ads.

  • Good Lord, you're not suggesting that the American people could influence corporate behaviour through their spending habits, are you? What would Karl Marx say? What would the Green Party do? Where would Ralph Nader go?

    Most of all, what would happen to my God-given right to have policemen force my will upon strangers hundreds of miles away?

  • Hmmm...when I watch cable, I'm watching my local TV stations much of the time. Are you telling me that TW is censoring the ads run by (in my case) WMAR or WJZ?

    For sure they're not controlling billboards, radio (well, they probably have some influence there), newspapers, magazines, and guys walking up and down wearing sandwich boards. Contrary to what your cable company may tell you, they are far from the only game in town when it comes to advertising, and most especially when it comes to local and regional advertising, which is, after all, the topic here.

  • Oh, surely not a raving lunatic. Eccentric, perhaps, maybe even dotty, but raving is so distasteful...

    My main point in mentioning policemen is that ultimately every law or regulation is likely someday somewhere to be enforced by some cop going through a door, and I think it would be useful if people remembered that. Whether your sympathies lie with the lawbreaker and his damaged door, or the policeman who may get shot, it makes sense to try to stick to laws that are worth mayhem.

    That said, and speaking as a Baltimorean (always up to see the Yankees struck down by a vengeful God, and comepletely careless of damage to the rest of the city), I have to ask: what the hell are you talking about?

  • Yes, of course they own magazines (Time, Life, Fortune...). Those are all national rags, however, and as discussed, regional ISP's don't want national ads anyway. The question is whether or not TW can stop you from advertising in East Hogjowl, Nebraska, and my contention is that they cannot.
  • Perhaps not. On the other hand, neither of them is a New York company -- De Beers is British, and Shell is Anglo / Dutch.

    We may be the Great Satan, but we're not the only Satan.

  • You may well be right about the legal aspect, although that makes the definition of "medium" very powerful. Many US cities that have only one daily paper, for instance, so if "daily paper" were defined as a single medium (as distinct from "local periodical", for instance), then suddenly the East Hogjowl Daily Gab becomes a dreaded monopoly.

    Reading the article, I'm a little unclear on exactly who was selling the ad time. Under normal circumstances (and I'm not an ad man, so somebody jump in here), I would expect to go to the cable network (ESPN, for instance, or MTV), rather than the cable provider (TW or TCI) to buy ad time. It may be that a certain portion of the ad time on each channel can be allocated to the local cable company to sell, which makes sense for regional ads, and that it was that ad time which TW refused to sell.

    For sure, however, I see local (very local, like those terrible ads for lawyers) here in the Baltimore market on both the broadcast and cable signal (ie, turn on two TV's, one with and one without cable, and set them to a local channel), which would clearly show that ad time can be bought locally, without going through the cable company. Hell, we had one channel around here which refused to allow its signal to be carried on the cable system unless they received greater compensation -- certainly their ads are uncontaminated.

  • Actually, I think your memory may be backwards. As I recall, the Act allowed local channels to bow out of retransmission by cable companies, which is to say it permitted the local channel to charge the cable company for carrying their programming. Since most people want local news and weather, most cable companies went ahead and negotiated agreements with the local broadcasters.
  • So, let me see if I understand this game -- you name a city, and then a couple of corporations who may have committed atrocities but have no special connection to that city?

    OK, I'll start this time: "Brazilia asks itself this all the time. Maybe you didn't notice, being a raving lunatic and all, but Brazilia is resposible for more death and destruction than the most evil communist countries ever was.", and then you say, "Huh?", and I say, "Are Airbus and General Motors absolved of guilt merely because they're flagships of the great wonder of capitalism?"

    Yeah, whatever, I guess. Not much of a game, is it? Does anybody have a deck of cards?

  • It seems like AOL is letting the larger ISPs advertise because they might just buy them at some point in the future.

    AOL probably wants to stifle the smaller ISPs because it would be too much trouble to buy all of them up and take their customers, so they suffocate them instead.

    I'm assuming that AOL has as its long-term goal to be the only residential ISP in the entire world.

  • Additionally, it is o.k. for a corporation to use their resources in nearly any way they see fit. If they buy a piece of land and then fill it with garbage, it will be difficult to resell, thus providing an economic incentive to not pollute.

    If you think that events can be entirely kept separate from each other, then you're suffering from a real ignorance about how the world works my friend. A company could pollute its own land, sure, but to think that there would be no consequences outside of this is naive at best.

    It is not "only right" that government ensure fairness.

    Why? Are you happy with systems that perpetuate privilige and inequality?

    Life isn't "fair" and the exetent of the involvement of government agencies is generally inversely correlated to the amount of "fairness" experienced.

    Sure, life isn't fair, but does that mean we should accept that? Isn't that a failure of vision, accepting the worst rather than trying to improve things?

    There is no "tyranny of the capitalist elite". Tyranny indicates an "absolute power" which cannot exist. Do the capitalist elite force you to buy their products or services? Do they require you to participate?

    When the very essentials of day to day life are controlled by the capitalist elite then yes. Look at how few companies are behind the production of the goods you buy, and tell me there isn't such an elite that are responsible for the staples that millions of people require?

    Nobody even requires you to stay in the country!

    What a solution! Rather than fixing the system, we can move everybody elsewhere! It's amazing that people are happy to live in a system where you've more chance of bettering yourself by leaving entirely than by playing within the system.

    In this "ideal" society, you simply don't enter into any contract which you feel is not a value to you. People value things differently, if you don't want to work for $5.00 per hour, don't. No one is forcing you to.

    And if the alternative is death through starvation? Yes, I'm sure your position is "well, you have the choice to accept or not", but a choice between death and whatever contract is offered to you is no choice at all. When you are in this position, any contract is better than death, and in your libertarian wonderland, there is no recourse for people forced into slave labour contracts.

    For you to claim that they have a right to life, is to claim that they have a right to have me support their life, which is untrue.

    My there's a huge slippery slope...

    Their lives are their own responsibility, not mine, and to argue otherwise, well, why don't you just start sending your paychecks to me, 'cause I want 'em, and everyone should get what they want right?

    There's a huge difference between the right to life and your strawman. People can't just "get what they want", but they have the right to a minimum standard of living. Any other belief is pure selfishness and inhumane.

  • Additionally, it is o.k. for a corporation to use their resources in nearly any way they see fit. If they buy a piece of land and then fill it with garbage, it will be difficult to resell, thus providing an economic incentive to not pollute.

    If you think that events can be entirely kept separate from each other, then you're suffering from a real ignorance about how the world works my friend. A company could pollute its own land, sure, but to think that there would be no consequences outside of this is naive at best.

    It is not "only right" that government ensure fairness.

    Why? Are you happy with systems that perpetuate privilige and inequality?

    Life isn't "fair" and the exetent of the involvement of government agencies is generally inversely correlated to the amount of "fairness" experienced.

    Sure, life isn't fair, but does that mean we should accept that? Isn't that a failure of vision, accepting the worst rather than trying to improve things?

    There is no "tyranny of the capitalist elite". Tyranny indicates an "absolute power" which cannot exist. Do the capitalist elite force you to buy their products or services? Do they require you to participate?

    When the very essentials of day to day life are controlled by the capitalist elite then yes. Look at how few companies are behind the production of the goods you buy, and tell me there isn't such an elite that are responsible for the staples that millions of people require?

    Nobody even requires you to stay in the country!

    What a solution! Rather than fixing the system, we can move everybody elsewhere! It's amazing that people are happy to live in a system where you've more chance of bettering yourself by leaving entirely than by playing within the system.

    In this "ideal" society, you simply don't enter into any contract which you feel is not a value to you. People value things differently, if you don't want to work for $5.00 per hour, don't. No one is forcing you to.

    And if the alternative is death through starvation? Yes, I'm sure your position is "well, you have the choice to accept or not", but a choice between death and whatever contract is offered to you is no choice at all. When you are in this position, any contract is better than death, and in your libertarian wonderland, there is no recourse for people forced into slave labour contracts.

    For you to claim that they have a right to life, is to claim that they have a right to have me support their life, which is untrue.

    My there's a huge slippery slope...

    Their lives are their own responsibility, not mine, and to argue otherwise, well, why don't you just start sending your paychecks to me, 'cause I want 'em, and everyone should get what they want right?

    There's a huge difference between the right to life and your strawman. People can't just "get what they want", but they have the right to a minimum standard of living. Any other belief is pure selfishness and inhumane.

  • by flatpack (212454) on Thursday June 07, 2001 @03:08AM (#169853)

    Especially when so many huge media corporations are merging and taking each other to form such massive conglomerates, a strong government watchdog is needed to prevent these abuses of power. If AOL/Time Warner are allowed to get away with this, then they are basically being allowed to suppress their competition, and what kind of free market supports this? No kind at all.

    The free market ideal that American culture reveres is only possible given a lack of monopolies and informed consumers. Here we have the worst of both worlds - a near-monopoly ensuring that consumers are ill-informed! And since other companies are just as bad, the only place we, the people, can turn to is the government. It is their duty to ensure that our needs are put first, rather than those of the corporate warlords.

    Unfortunately, I somehow doubt Bush will see it that way. He's all for corporate power and unaccountability - just look at how so much of America's War on Drugs is now persued by private companies unaccountable to the electorate. Remember - you can vote to change your government, but you can't do anything to change a corporation.

  • by flatpack (212454) on Thursday June 07, 2001 @04:06AM (#169854)

    I've been corrected by a Randite drone. How awful.

    Bullshit! What we need is for people to take responsibility for their own lives.

    Since the government represents the people, that's what I was talking about. Still, nice attempt at a strawman.

    What is wrong with a corporation deciding how to use its own property?

    When that usage is detrimental to people? Or do you believe that corporations are better than people? Oh wait, you probably do if you're spouting Randite crap at me. So it's alright for corporations to pollute then, because it's "how they use their own property"?

    Is Budwiser going to start placing Miller Lite ads on it's beer cans? Of course not. But by your argument, the government should step in and force such things to happen.

    *sigh* Strawman. Again. Budweiser is not in the advertising business now is it? Since media corporations have such a huge influence on society, it is only right that government ensures their fairness. Just look at the most respected news source on the planet - the BBC. A publicly-run organisation!

    Oh, and you forgot to mention "jack-booted thugs" in your tirade.

    It is the government's first and foremost duty to protect the constitutional rights of the individual against the tyranny of the majority. Unfortunately, the government has failed at even this.

    And equally so, it is their duty to protect the rights of the majority against the tyranny of the capitalist elite. Because since the US is so profit-driven, majority is defined in terms of monetary value, and the "majority" is actually those who control 5% of the population and over half of its wealth.

    And yet, the government has failed in this duty, thanks to fools like you that think "wealth creation" is some kind of sacred goal to be valued above all else, even things like human dignity.

    Remember that there is no such dichotomy as "human rights" versus "property rights."

    Yup, one is worth fighting for, the other is a byproduct of a capitalist society.

    No human rights can exist without property rights.

    Translation: if you don't own anything, you have no rights. Those that own more, have more rights to do as they please.

    Since material goods are produced by the mind and effort of individual men, and are needed to sustain their lives, if the producer does not own the result of his effort, he does not own his life.

    In your ideal society, please explain to me how wage slavery would be prevented.

    To deny property rights means to turn men into property owned by the state. Whoever claims the "right" to "redistribute" the wealth produced by others is claiming the "right" to treat human beings as chattel.

    No, because people have fundamental rights irrespective of whether or not they own property. Only Randroid nuts like you would think otherwise. By your reckoning the homeless, refugees and hunter-gatherer tribes do not have any rights, such as the right to life. What self-serving bullshit.

    It's a great philosophy for people with plenty of resources and a lack of empathy for other people. Thankfully, most people aren't that cold.

  • by anonicon (215837) on Thursday June 07, 2001 @03:03AM (#169857)
    From the article, it's apparent that AOL/Warner is adhering to the letter of the agreement if not the spirit by allowing national ISPs like "EarthLink, Juno Online Services Inc. and High Speed Access Corp. to meet the merger conditions, (but) most small and regional ISPs have felt frozen out of open access." While this is clearly wrong, I don't know if it is illegal since after all it was the FCC who said AOL/TW had to open their lines to competitors and they have done so.

    More troublesome is the fact that AOL/TW is blocking content from Joe User because Joe User's sponsor is barred by AOL/TW. "Last fall, Time Warner refused to let Westlake High use one of its channels to rebroadcast football games if Texas.Net continued as an advertiser (for Westlake High). Texas.net had advertised with Time Warner for several years prior to the fall of 2000 only to be told that Time Warner would not renew Westlake High School's TV contract if Texas.net was a sponsor."

    This seems to be illegal because now AOL/TW are telling User X that their sponsors have to first be subject to AOL/TW approval. Talk about a present and long-term potential abuse of monopoly power. What other roadblocks will AOL/TW impose on people/organizations who want to use their network when they're the only game in town?

    All in all, not surprising - is anyone surprised when large companies do this sort of thing?

    Cheers.

  • by hillct (230132) on Thursday June 07, 2001 @07:19AM (#169863) Homepage Journal
    The idea here is to raise the bariers to market entry. Over the last decade, it had become extremely easy to setup an ISP. The costs associated with such entry into the market were vary small. There's even a Linux HowTo for setting up an ISP [fokus.gmd.de].

    The goal of the AOL policy is to make it more difficult for indeviduals and smaller competitors to grow and flourish in this market. As the saying goes "Keep ypur friends close, and your enemies closer". With that in mind, allow large players to continue to advertise and operate effectively in the market (to avoid such annoyances as antitrust suits) and squeeze small players out. That way you know exactly who your competition is.

    Much as in the telecom industry, the biggest threats come from the small operator who develops and provides the killer app/service. It's sough to keep track of such small operators so instead, raise the bariers to entry into the market to such a degree that small operators can no longer compete, while allowing larger players (that are easy to keep track of) continue to compete. This is just good business, and as much as it pains me to say this, as far as I know, AOL/Time Warner is within their rights to refuse advertising. They can do business or not do business with whomever they please.

    --CTH
  • You know, instead of thinking like a 'Consumer', why don't you try thinking like an 'Owner'. As soon as you buy one share of stock, you're a part owner of the company, and you get to vote on all major decisions, and even attend the shareholder meetings. What to make signficiant change to the company? Get large groups of people to buy stock in the company, and change the damn company yourselves.

  • What's to say that a bunch of poor people can't all buy stock and vote as a block? It seems like that'd be a hell of a lot more effective then trying to lobby the government to do a half-assed or militaristic job of fixing things. You want to have a say at an AOL/Time-Warner corporate shareholder's meeting? As of this morning, it'll cost you $52.28.

  • I'm shocked how many people find this practice unusual (well not shocked since this IS Slashdot). NBC doesn't advertise on CBS and it makes good sense. A direct competitor stealing away your customers? A company should have some defenses against this? If the small and medium size DSL companies didn't want AOL on their sites (which I'm sure most don't and slyly don't allow), would anyone care? It's easy to pick on the big guys but to me this stands for FAIR competition not the opposite.

    1. is this.....is this for REAL? [mikegallay.com]
  • BS!

    This is the 21st century, journalistic ethics that you speak of where completely lost in the 20th century. Respectable news programs have been released by news entertainment such as NBC's Dateline. Wasn't it Dateline of 20/20 that admitted that they rigged a gas tank to explode on a GM vehicle as part of a "demonstration" of how unsafe the gas tank was? ABC's morning programs had an interview with the Pets.com sock puppet because their parent company, Disney, owned Pets.com. CNN devoted months to televising OJ Simpson's trial.

    My point is that they news on TV has become a big business that exists to feed it's parent company. News that isn't good for the bottom line is unimportant.
  • AOL/Time Warner is within their rights to refuse advertising. They can do business or not do business with whomever they please.

    True, but this is exactly why the gov't worries about placing TOO much broadcasting power in the hands of one company. The idea being if one comapny won't show advertising from Company A, another broadcaster will. But when you have companies owning a large percentage of the channels sent to viewers, you limit access to those viewers and you limit what they see - at the whim of the owning company.

    Sadly - AOl knows they'll get away with it cause the small fry don't have the resources to fight it - the big guys do so they let their ads on.

    So for all you free market types out there who never met a merger you didn't like - just wait till all US internet access requires the installation of AOL 12.0!

  • However I think it is the right of the owner of a website to choose what is and what isn't advertised on their websites

    Read the story before posting FUD! The problem is they denied them ads on the CABLE networks of Time Warner. In many placces, Time Warner is the ONLY cable game in town. So they are a monopoly and they are using that monopoly to benefit OTHER parts of their business - namely Road Runner.

    So this IS a problem that we all should be concerned about - should companies in a monopoly position in business A (cable TV here) be able to shut out competitors in business B (DSL/ISP) by denying them access to advertising in Business A - the monopoly.

    No way - thats why these huge mergers bring up such troublesome issues - it is too easy to squash the competition, often with teh gov'ts help (grants to extend cable into rural areas, etc, etc)

  • by Fat Casper (260409) on Thursday June 07, 2001 @03:18AM (#169883) Homepage
    I liked it when Time-Warner bought out our local cable company. It was only a cable company, but they had been very active in the community, sponsoring scholarships and local events. Now that it's owned by a national, we are bombarded with ads claiming that the "cable advantage" is that it's local. So don't go sattelite, because that money doesn't stay local. I don't see them sponsoring anything here anymore, though.

    Now to grind my own personal axe. Has anyone seen Headline News since the merger? It used to be a dependable source of real news. Now they have co-anchors, tell me who's having a birthday and spend 5 of their 30 minutes telling me what movies are going to be on TV tonight!!! The other night I saw a tech consultant (you can't pay attention to them, except for entertainment) that I thought they said was from AOL. Maybe we should call Bernard Shaw out of retirement. HE'd never allow this to continue.

  • by Blowit (415131)
    Well, I guess you are an AOL user/lover.

    The whole point of free world market is that companies can not be monopolistic on advertising rights. First, it is bad for business. Second, it shows your true intentions that this merger was meant to ensure ONE and ONLY ONE ISP on TV. And third, shut the competition out and possibly shitting on them on TV.

    If you enjoy propaganda TV, then by all means, watch TW... Otherwise, I think those ISPs should bring a Class action lawsuit to TW for not allowing ISPs to advertise themselves. Hope they band together and rip AOLTW a new asshole.
  • by ColGraff (454761) <maron1&mindspring,com> on Thursday June 07, 2001 @04:50AM (#169895) Homepage Journal
    These big corporations are getting way too much power. AOL is the most popular ISP in the nation, and Time-Warner - well, they own everything Disney doesn't. If AOL-Time-Warner starts refusing to allow competitors to advertise, how long will it be before they realize they can also refuse to air any news they don't like? OR ads for politicians they don't like? And what will keep AOL from banning its users from accessing the sites of competitors? Remember, Bush is a very good friend of big business. He'd probably let them get away with this.

    This is very disturbing stuff. We have protection against government censorship, but what protection fo we have from corporate censorship?

  • (And I'm not so naive as to believe corporate pressure is never applied -- certainly, I've seen it happen. But it's minimized remarkably well.)

    Have you read FAIR [fair.org]'s Fear and Favor 2000 report [fair.org]? It seems to indicate that this sort of thing is a lot more widespread than you think:

    In a 2000 Pew Center for the People & the Press poll of 287 reporters, editors and news executives, about one-third of respondents said that news that would "hurt the financial interests" of the media organization or an advertiser goes unreported. Forty-one percent said they themselves have avoided stories, or softened their tone, to benefit their media company's interests.

    Apparently not all journalists have your ethical fortitude.
    --
    #/usr/bin/perl
    require 6.0;

  • by SgtChaireBourne (457691) on Thursday June 07, 2001 @02:58AM (#169903) Homepage
    Wouldn't this violate common carriage? I believe the US still has this practice and has applied it to cable TV and telephone service.

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