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Internet Edition, May 2, 2001, Page 1


Georgia's Dept. of Industry, Trade and Tourism has issued an RFP worth up to $10 million for advertising/PR designed to promote economic development and lure vacationers to the state.

J. Walter Thompson and Hill and Knowlton are currently mopping up work on the account, according to Robert Morris, communications director for GDITT.

The contract, he said, must be re-bid under state law. It is for one year, but may be renewed for another four years.

Interested firms must have at least three years of experience in travel/trade communications, and be willing to commit at least 12 staffers to the account.

GDITT wants to raise awareness among corporate CEOs, entrepreneurs and minority companies about the state's favorable business climate.

The agency also sees Georgia as a potential film mecca. It wants bidders to craft an outreach program to Los Angeles and New York-based entertainment decision-makers.

The RFP deadline is May 14. Pete Penny is the contracting officer. 404/657-6000.


The Epilepsy Foundation of America has selected Ogilvy PR Worldwide to handle PR for National Epilepsy Month in November, according to Peter Van Haverbeke, PR director at the non-profit group.

"I also invited Fleishman-Hillard and Porter Novelli to submit proposals," he told this NL.

Ogilvy won the account because it went beyond what Van Haverbeke required during the presentation.

It did "a lot of legwork" and provided more detailed information than its competitors, he said.

Van Haverbeke said Brynn Barnett heads the Ogilvy team, which will create a campaign aimed at teens.

Ogilvy will craft a campaign aimed at the overall teen population to encourage understanding and acceptance of their contemporaries with epilepsy.

Enron Corp. has hired John Shelk from the American Gaming Assn. for a top government affairs position in Washington, D.C. Korn/Ferry International did the search...EAW Group, Washington, D.C., picked up a $200,000 pact to attract investors from the U.K., Taiwan and South Africa to Gambia. It already has a $500,000 pact to lure U.S. companies to Gambia.


Cohn & Wolfe closed its Chicago office effective April 30, according to Jim Kaplove, the firm's chief financial officer.

He said C&W will discuss "future opportunities" with office heads Ann Adams and Stu Wilson.

The firm plans to service Chicago clients, such as Lifeway Foods and various Lipton brands, from other C&W offices.

It will complete that transition in May.

Kaplove went to Chicago on April 24 to personally tell staffers about the shutdown. He met one-on-one with each of the 11 employees.

CEO Steve Aiello sent a memo to the rest of C&W on April 26 to inform them of "my unfortunate task" of shuttering Chicago.

The move was necessary to "position the company during these difficult times."

He thanked the Chicago staffers for their "hard work and best efforts on behalf of our clients and Cohn & Wolfe."

C&W had $1.6 million in 1999 fees, and ranked No. 27 in Chicago.

Hill and Knowlton and Fleishman-Hillard also have cut staff in the city.


DaimlerChrysler's Lori McTavish, 40, will join Kmart Corp. on May 3 as VP-communications.

She had been the automaker's senior manager/ corporate media relations, North America.

McTavish began her PR career at Chrysler Canada, where she handled special events and employee communications.

Moving to Chrysler Corp., McTavish handled marketing PR operations for the Jeep/Eagle division, and was in charge of putting out corporate news.

At Kmart, she will be responsible for internal/external PR, community affairs, and public policy.

She will report to David Rots, chief administrative officer.

Brent Willis, who re-launched Kmart's legendary "Blue Light Special" marketing program last month, has resigned his post for personal reasons.

David Hakensen, 17-year veteran of Padilla Speer Beardsley, joins client NCS Pearson, Minneapolis, as VP of PR. Hakensen, 42, had been a senior VP and head of PSB's media relations practice.

Internet Edition, May 2, 2001, Page 2


The Securities and Exchange Commission got negative feedback about its six-month-old Regulation Fair Disclosure rule at a meeting it held last week in New York that was attended by about 300 corporate executives, lawyers and analysts.

"Chief among complaints from company finance officers is that they don't know what information should be considered `material' to investors," according to David Callaway, who covered the meeting for CBS

Callaway said the debate over what is material could go on for years.

The recent bear market has added to the confusion at companies about what should be disclosed knowing that all the news was bad news, usually in the form of an earnings warning. "So companies have talked less," said Callaway. "But when they have talked, it's been bad news, crushing their shares and making them shy about talking again."

The one positive thing that has come out of the regulation is the "explosion in the webcasting of conference calls," said Callaway, who cited figures tallied by that show the number of webcast conference calls last quarter rose to 4,300 from 1,300.

A few companies, notably Motorola and Raytheon, are being investigated by the SEC for privately briefing analysts on their performances. The SEC said at the meeting that it does not intend to make scapegoats out of anybody just for misunderstanding the rule.

"That is a mistake," said Callaway. "To back off now and water down the regulation by saying there won't be much enforcement to go with it is as big a mistake as it would be to rescind the ruling after only six months."


Dan Fost, who covers media for The San Francisco Chronicle, said disparagement severance clauses have thwarted his reporting several times on layoffs at media firms.

"In its most odious incarnation, companies are laying off people-and then forcing them to sign `non-disparagement clauses' to collect their severance checks," wrote Fost.

Even media companies, which rely on their reporters to get information, are not allowing their laid- off employees to speak out, he added.

"I've tried to talk to quite a few laid-off journalists, and the answer is often the same: They'd love to talk, but they don't want to risk their severance. Many of them won't even talk off the record," he wrote.

Fost cites several companies, including Inside. com,, Health magazine, and Cnet Networks.

"After all, the hypocrisy of a media company trampling on its employees' free speech rights usually makes for stories worse than anything the former workers would have said," said Fost.


Reporters were barred from Yahoo! Inc.'s annual shareholders' meeting on April 27 in a Santa Clara hotel ballroom.

Reporters who don't own stock in the company had to listen over the Internet.

Yahoo spokeswoman Nicki Dugan told Bill Bergstein of The Associated Press the rule has been in place for the company's entire five-year history as a public company.

"We feel that this is a legal function intended for our stockholders," Dugan told the AP reporter.

Bergstein said other high-tech companies, such as Cisco Systems, Sun Microsytems, Intel, and Apple Computer, let reporters in to cover annual meetings.

Bergstein said even companies that sometimes face PR nightmares let reporters in to watch management field questions from investors.


WPP Group, which owns Burson-Marsteller, Hill & Knowlton and several other PR and advertising firms, has a 50% interest with Forbes magazine in a new custom-magazine publishing company.

The new venture, called Custom Media Group, will handle editorial, design, production, distrbution and other jobs for companies in the U.S. and abroad.

It will handle magazines, newsletters, annual reports and websites. The Custom Media group will operate separately from Forbes Custom Communications Ptrs., which publishes magazines for Fidelity Investments, IBM, and Northwestern Mutual Life.


Toby Usnik has joined The New York Times Co. as director of PR. He will report to Catherine Mathis, VP of corporate communications.

Usnik had previously been director of global communications for Razorfish and also held a PR position at American Express.

He holds a B.A. in history and French from Hampden-Sydney College, an M.S. from the Univ. of Pennsylvania in university administration, and a master's of philosophy from Columbia Univ.

Christine Mohan, who had been senior manager of PR at N.Y. Times Digital, was given an expanded role in the corporate communications department with the same title.

Previously, Mohan was the marketing director at Abuzz, which was acquired by NYT Co. in July 1999 to become part of N.Y. Times Digital.

Mohan, who will report to Usnik, will continue to handle PR for NYTD.

DEATH: Ben G. Wright, 89, who retired in 1976 as publisher of This Week magazine, died April 10. Wright, who served as a U.S. Air Force spokesman during World War II, joined American Airlines after he was discharged, as its PR director. He joined the syndicated Sunday newspaper magazine, which stopped publishing in 1979, in 1959.

Internet Edition, May 2, 2001, Page 3


Aspen Business Development, an Atlanta-based PR firm run by former technology editor Doug Kilarski, is offering to edit for free the headline, dateline, and introductory paragraph of news release drafts received from organizations that don't have a PR firm.

The firm will accept and edit one news release per month. The releases will be edited according to Associated Press style.

"It is our experience that with or without agency representation, many news releases are `trashed' for improper style, over statement of value, and wordiness," said Kilarksi.

"Most executives would be amazed at how little time an editor has to make the nay or yea decision to include an announcement in the next issue, e.g., approximately three seconds."

Kilarski said executives at his firm have held the positions of contributing editor, technical editor, and editor-in-chief at several technology publications. Kilarski was the first tech editor for Computer Shopper<D> magazine. 770/972-4117.


Op-Ed pieces will be considered for publication on Crain's website, located at

Robin Kamen, who is editor of the site, said the pieces must be less than 300 words in length and must tackle a New York-specific topic.

Submit pieces by e-mail to [email protected].

The website will also launch an online database of companies that are new to New York.

Each month, one firm, which is less than three years old, will be profiled.

To be included in the database, e-mail [email protected] with the following information: company name, address, phone and website; CEO name; the date the company was founded; the industry in which the company does business; a 50-word description of what the company does; the number of employees; estimated 2001 revenues, and a company contact.


Environmental Defense and the National Wildlife Federation have launched a non-commercial website that delivers zipcode specific news and advice about the environment for every community in the U.S.

The site-called customized "Neighborhood Reports" on four topics: pollution, nature, recycling and gardening.

ForMyWorld is organized into seven content channels including "Buying Green," which provides information about the most environmentally friendly products; "Great Outdoors," which shows local birds, mammals and other wildlife and where to find them, and "Close to Home," which gives recipes and other household environmental tips.

Joyce Newman is editor-in-chief of the site, which is funded by the Packard Foundation, Surdna Foundation, as well as individual donors.

Editorial offices are located at Environmental Defense, 275 Park ave. South, New York, NY 10010. 212/505-0606.

MSNBC.COM ADDS HOME IMPROVEMENT COL. has added a weekly column to cover home improvement, safety, consumer protection and real estate.
"The Money Pit," which will appear every Thursday, is written by Tom Kraeutler and Mary Barreta, who currently host a syndicated radio program of the same name.


Col Allan, 47, who is editor-in-chief of The Sydney Telegraph in Australia, is coming to New York to be editor-in-chief of The New York Post.

Allan, who started his career at Rupert Murdoch's News Corp. in 1978, is replacing Xana Antunes, 36, who joined the Post in 1995 as deputy business editor.


Microsoft Corp. and NBC have agreed to merge the MSN and websites.

The new personal finance site-which is expected to launch this summer and be reached at or have a reach of approximately 16 million unique monthly visitors.

Throughout the daily broadcast, CNB TV will send its viewers to the joint site for in-depth commentary, investing news and personal finance tools.

CNBCMoneyCentral will operate from Microsoft's offices, with the editorial team split between Fort Lee, N.J., and Redmond, Wash.


Mike Causey is leaving next month. He has been writing a "Federal forum" column five days a week for the site.
The site, which will stay online, is closing its news unit. It had planned to run about 200 news stories daily about the federal government.

Causey, 61, who joined PlanetGov last May when the site was started, had been The Washington Post's "Federal Diary" columnist for 30 years.

The privately held Chantilly, Va., company's information technology business, which sells network engineering services and technology products, is profitable.


DCity magazine, a fashion and entertainment magazine with a free/paid circulation of about 30,000, has stopped publishing its monthly print edition.

The publisher will continue to operate its Internet magazine (

The print version, started in June 1999, was distributed free to some hotels and restaurants and for a fee to subscribers.

(Media news continued on next page)

Internet Edition, May 2, 2001, Page 4


Ted Saad, executive producer of Gotham TV, put the word out at the Publicity Club of N.Y.'s luncheon April 26 that he is interested in booking guests who are smart, witty and funny.

Gotham TV is a one-hour weekly show that explores all aspects of New York and the tri-state area. It is a co-venture with New York Magazine and Cablevision. Saad, who runs his own production firm, said Gotham TV introduces the people and places that make "New York the great metropolis it is."

The show, which has several segments, covers parties, the gallery scene, theater, film, publishing events and more.

Gotham Covers New Yorkers

"Gotham TV celebrates the people of New York -cultured, savvy, snooty, creative, issue-taking, money-making, living-on-the-edge, good, bad, rich, poor, proud-to-be-in-your-face New Yorkers," Saad told the nearly 100 attendees at the meeting.

Saad said he is looking for stories for the following segments: "A New York Life," "Who's Making It," "Magnificent Obsessions," "The In Crowd," "My Neighborhood," and "Pleasure Island."

Pitches should include the following: Summary of idea, contact information, and press release, if available. He only wants to get the information by e-mail at [email protected].

"All of our stories are evergreen. We are not news, so we are not able to film stories that are timely in nature," said Saad, whose company, Saad and Moss Entertainment, is located at 307 W. 38th st., 10018.

Oxygen Needs a Lift

Lesley Mulgrave, who is talent booker for "Pure Oxygen" on the Oxygen Cable Network, New York, said the network, which is in the process of revamping its program line-up, "welcomes ideas" from publicists.

She provided information on the following programs:

-"Pure Oxygen"-Live magazine talk show that airs Mondays-Thursdays from noon to 1:30 p.m.
Pitch: Leigh Seldin, assignment editor, [email protected].

-"Laura Pedersen's Your Money & Your Life" -Talk/informational show. Type of guests include celebrities, business people, and financial managers.
Pitch: Lesley Mallgrave, 212/651-5247, or Lori Farber, 651-5289.

-"She Commerce"-Shopping advice show. Type of guest: People with products, designers, celebrities.
Pitch: Julie van Dale, 651-5053; or Mallgrave.

-"Daily Remix"-Music entertainment show. Airs: Mon.-Thurs. 7:30 p.m.-8 p.m. Type of guest: Musicians all genres.
Pitch: Meredith Cohen, 651-5931.

-"Custom Concert"-Music performance specials, premiers July 17. Type of guests: Well-known music acts, celebrity guests.
Pitch: Cohen or Mallgrave.

-"Oxygen Sports"-Live and taped sports events/profiles. Airs: Sat./Sun. at 5 p.m.-7 p.m. Types of guest: female athletes, teams.
Pitch: Stacey Blagovich, 651-5021.

-"I've Got A Secret"-Show featuring real people with a secret unuusal occupation or feat. Will begin taping new season in late June in Los Angeles.
Pitch: Mallgrave.

MSNBC Wants News

Maryam Ayromlou, who is senior producer for MSNBC primetime programs, said breaking news is a high priority.

When it is news, call central booking, and when it is a feature story, pitch the planning department, said Ayromlou.

She urged publicists to familiarize themselves with the show so they pitch only ideas that are in line with what is being covered at the moment.

If they are unable to get through to one of the top three producers, Ayromlou said "junior" bookers are good contacts.

Alla Lora is the senior producer in the central booking department. Cyndi Antoniak and Robin Touval are Lora's deputy producers.

The main number to the booking department is 201/583-5151; fax: 583-5692.

Be an Early Bird

Philip O'Brien, who is managing editor of WNBC-TV News, which covers news in the tri-state area, rattled off a list of do's and don'ts for pitching.

His main point was to pitch only breaking news to the assignment desk. "This is the nerve center at the TV station," said O'Brien, who pointed out that a good time to pitch news to the assignment editor is between 4 a.m. and 6 a.m. every day before the producers and reporters arrive for work and are given their assignments. "Calling at 8:55 a.m. won't work," and, he added, "everything goes crazy at 4:55 p.m."

O'Brien said publicists should be ready to provide the visual elements when they make a pitch.

Don't pitch him feature stories, and he never uses a taped handout.


John Markoff, who covers high technology news for The New York Times, will start a six-month leave this month to write a book about the history of the personal computer.

His book, which will be published by Penguin, will focus on the years from 1961 to 1976.

Markoff, who is based in the paper's San Francisco bureau, is interested in getting the oral histories of people who worked with Doug Engelbart, whom he called "the Moses of modern computing."

Internet Edition, May 2, 2001, Page 7


The Interpublic Group of Cos., parent of PR firms with $700 million+ in fees, lost $38.3 million, or 12 cents a share in the first quarter, vs. a profit of $42.9M, or 14 cents, in the same 2000 quarter.

The stock closed at $33.96 April 27, off $2.35 and near its 52-week low of $32. It had reached $58 in December, 1999, just before its $680M purchase of NFO Worldwide was announced.

The IPG press release headlined an 11% gain in operating revenues and gains of 6% in both revenue and organic growth. Net of $65.3 million was claimed although IPG pointed out this did not include $160M in certain charges. Only at the end of the seventh page in its release is the dollar amount of the loss provided as part of a page of tables.

The pre-tax charges included $160M for declines in investments including the bankrupt MarchFirst and $36M for restructuring of Lowe Lintas.

CEO John Dooner said the agency is facing a "tough market" and is holding down costs. IPG's acquisition of True North for $2.1B is "progressing well" and should be completed soon, he said. IPG owns Weber/Shandwick and Golin/Harris and will pick up BSMG with the purchase of TN.

Stock Taking Big Hit

IPG's stock has taken its first big downturn since 1985, according to a chart in its financial report.

The chart shows a near straight-line increase in cumulative total return since 1985 until December, 1999, when it went into a tailspin of about $20 a share (one-third of its price of $58) from which it has yet to recover. This has clipped about $6 billion in stock valuation from its previous $17B total.

IPG's debt rose 52% in 2000 to $1.9B.

In has paid $2.9B through the end of 2000 for 210 acquisitions of ad agencies, PR firms, marketing and graphics firms and other businesses (77 in 2000, 56 in 1999, and 77 in 1998). The $2.9B is more than half of total revenues of $5.6B in 2000. Only a few of the names of the companies are known to the public. IPG refuses to identify the rest.

Thirty-seven insiders have proposed the sale of 491,027 IPG shares worth $20M since Jan. 1. Insiders have made no purchases during this period.


Steve Blow, columnist for the Dallas Morning News, last week wrote of his unsuccessful efforts to start a relationship with the PR unit of Exxon Mobil, the world's biggest company with $232 billion in sales. Its h.q. are outside of Dallas.

Blow had trouble finding the h.q. because Exxon "isn't much on signs." He described the h.q. as a "low, dark building" atop a hill on State Highway 11 that looks "cold and spooky." A guard stopped him at the gate since he didn't have an appointment.

Back at the office, he called PR and got "a perky PR type named Cynthia Langlands." He explained he just wanted to make a friendly visit but she said media do not normally come to h.q. He called her again but she did not return the call.

Undeterred, he thought up some "serious" topics such as the Exxon Valdez oil spill and the current legal battle between Exxon and Kellogg's. Both use tigers in their ads.

Langlands read him a prepared statement that said consumers would not confuse the Exxon tiger with Kellogg's "Tony the Tiger."

Blow, noting that Boeing might be moving to Dallas, wrote: "I sure hope Boeing's more fun."

Exxon's ad account has long been at the McCann-Erickson unit of Interpublic.


"Women dominate that good?" asked a headline in the April 25 USA Today.

The article by Rick Hampson quoted Burson-Marsteller founder Harold Burson as saying that PR is in danger of being regarded as "a woman's job."

Burson said clients want input from a group of people who are balanced by gender.

Women make up two-thirds of B-M's staff and three-quarters of new employees are women.

Burson is pictured with his six-member "executive team." All of them are women.

Sharon VanSickle of KVO PR, Portland, Ore., is quoted as saying many PR firms also have large proportions of women and "that's not healthy."

Chris Boehlke of Phase Two Strategies, San Francisco, said women excel in PR because they are more verbal, expressive and nurturing than men, which fits naturally with PR."

Burson, Daniel Edelman of Edelman PR Worldwide, and Al Golin of Golin/Harris International discussed the topic at PRSA's conference last year. They agreed that more men are needed in PR.

Burson said salaries might have to be raised in order to attract men. USA Today quoted a Harper's Bazaar article on " gold diggers" that said some women are seeking husbands via PR jobs.


Despite some gripes, most companies haven't clammed up under the new SEC rules calling for fair disclosure to the public as well as analysts, said IR veteran Ted Pincus.

More than a fourth of companies have overreacted and seriously curtailed their flow of investor communications but others are "successfully managing expectations through broadscale, high-frequency updates on their current outlook," said Pincus, CEO of the Financial Relations Board unit of BSMG Worldwide. He addressed faculty and lawyers at Northwestern University Law School.

He advised companies that "improved transparency" is not only legally safer but the key to higher price/earnings multiples. Companies should define their "investment appeals" and disseminate them broadly, he said. Obsession with earnings-per-share should be replaced with emphasis on cash flow. He advises "mass teleconferences" for press and analysts within an hour after any important news release.

Internet Edition, May 2, 2001, Page 8



This was quite a week in financial reporting.

First we had Interpublic announcing quarterly net income of $65 million before "impairment charges" caused by bad investments and costs of merging two of its ad agencies.

In other words, IPG lost $38M in the quarter!

Its release via PR Newswire headlined: "IPG Announces an 11% Gain in Operating Income."

Were the IPG execs in charge of the Mets, here's how they would describe a game: "Mets score 11 runs vs. Dodgers...15 hits is high for week...Dodgers held scoreless in three innings" (etc.). At the end of the release, in a column of stats, we would learn the Mets lost 12 to 11. What disturbs us is that media used the IPG spin and headlined such things as "IPG's Q1 Earnings Flat" (Reuters) and "IPG Posts Flat Profit Growth" (CBS MarketWatch). Only in the fourth graph does CBS point out that "including investment losses and other charges, IPG actually lost $38.3M."

IPG and some other companies have cajoled the media into stressing whatever it is the companies want to stress as opposed to the actual earnings, which should come first, just like the score of a baseball game. Yahoo, reporting on IPG, speaks of "normalized" earnings (excluding the special charges), a new atrocity in financial reporting.

Also, we object to IPG characterizing its merger costs as something extraordinary when it has acquired 210 companies in just the past three years and is now digesting True North for $2.1 billion.

The IPG sleight-of-hand with numbers is also visible in a glossy booklet it put out with its proxy statement and financial report to stockholders. The booklet looks like an annual report but is not because it has only one page (the first) with financials. The page is titled "Financial Highlights." Revenue is given correctly at $5.6 billion but net income and earnings per share carry asterisks. A footnote explains that the claimed net of $473K includes $116K in merger and non-recurring transaction costs. Per share net is given as $1.51 for 2000 and $1.24 for 1999. The actual per share net figures ($1.15 and $1.07) are not provided. We applaud IPG for showing that debt climbed 52% to $1.9 billion. Otherwise, the page, including three of four charts, is relentlessly upbeat and lacks key figures.

The first page in the Omnicom annual report is also upbeat. OMC deducts $63M from its earnings because the profit came from sale of shares of Razorfish, the dot-com whose stock plummeted from $56 to 31 cents (rebounding to 87 cents). Stockholder suits have charged improper insider trading. We don't know whether OMC will be named. OMC is to be praised for not deducting the costs of its numerous mergers but it fails to state on this page that its long-term debt soared 3.85 times from $263M to $1.015B.

Given this track record with financial reporting, it's no wonder we're not accepting any of the revenue claims for the PR units owned by the big three. WPP and OMC are both claiming $800+M in PR fees and IPG is claiming $700M+. None of the claims is backed by a CPA statement, payroll total, CPA-attested staff total or any documents whatever. The PR units count as PR anything they do. Hill and Knowlton and Burson-Marsteller, owned by WPP, refuse to supply account lists. Several other firms owned by the big three supplied abbreviated lists.

The attempted takeover of the PR rankings by WPP, OMC and IPG is a close cousin to what has happened in Russia with the state's takeover of Vladimir Gusinsky's publications and TV network. The state did not like his coverage, especially his criticism of the Chechen war. "This is an issue of who will run the state," an unnamed Kremlin official told the New York Times. Similarly, U.S. security analysts, bowing to economic pressure by companies and their investment banks, are now 99% positive (or at least neutral) in their appraisal of stocks...the National Investor Relations Institute and Financial Executives Int'l last week came out with guidelines for earnings statements but they mainly concern "pro forma" statements (such as showing what financials of two merged companies would have looked like in a previous quarter). What's really needed are standards that will make companies report their true earnings or losses first. Also, balance sheets should always be supplied with earnings and revenue statements. Many companies already do this. Both IPG and OMC distribute earnings statements without balance sheets, which, a CPA told us, is like a newspaper reporting scores of ball games but not the won/lost records and league standings of the teams. NIRI, oddly, has no standards for earnings statements.

The cold-as-ice PR posture adopted by the world's biggest company, Exxon Mobil, is a bad example for other companies and the PR profession. Come to think of it, Exxon is a longtime client of Interpublic, as is Coca-Cola, which also has tight policies towards the press (2/2/00 NL)...the Arthur Page Society last week said news releases are going directly into wire services, public websites and bulletin boards without much checking and that members should be careful of what they put out. This is good advice but better advice would be for members to be available when the press calls to check facts. The Page group won't give out a list of its members. Reporters calling companies encounter voice mail and unknowledgeable junior staffers.


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