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1997 in American television

The following is a list of events affecting American television during 1997. Events listed include television show debuts, finales, cancellations, and channel initiations, closures, and rebrandings, as well as information about controversies and disputes.


Date Event
January 1 The television rating system, a system similar to the one used for motion pictures, goes into effect.
WWOR-TV's WOR EMI Service is officially discontinued, re-uplinked into a local version a month later.
Cartoon Network gets its very first official launch for the first time in New Zealand.
Dexter's Laboratory Season 1 Finale on Cartoon Network.
January 3 Bryant Gumbel anchors his last Today show on NBC. The following Monday, Matt Lauer takes over alongside Katie Couric until he was fired 20 years later in November 2017.
January 6 Sunset Beach premieres on NBC.
January 12 King of the Hill premieres on Fox.
January 22 New World Communications is acquired by Fox. The deal makes 10 New World-owned stations that affiliated with Fox as a result of the 1994 United States broadcast TV realignment network O&O's.
January 26 Fox broadcasts its first Super Bowl, making it the last of the big four networks to air a Super Bowl. The Green Bay Packers defeat the New England Patriots 35-21 in a game that gives Fox its highest ratings to date.
February 1 The final affiliation switch resulting from the 1994–96 United States broadcast TV realignment takes place when Allbritton Communications (owners of WJLA-TV in Washington, D.C., one of the strongest ABC affiliates in the country) converts WB affiliate WBSG in Brunswick, Georgia into a semi-satellite of new sign-on WJXX in Orange Park, Florida, which assumes the ABC affiliation for the Jacksonville market. Former ABC affiliate WJKS promptly discontinues its news operation and assumes the WB affiliation from WBSG.
February 9 On Fox, The Simpsons airs the episode "The Itchy & Scratchy & Poochie Show". With this episode, The Simpsons surpasses The Flintstones as the longest-running primetime animated series in terms of episodes aired.
February 21 The old trilon-style puzzle board is used for the last time on Wheel of Fortune after 22 years. Next Monday, February 24, a new digital puzzle board debuts, which allows Vanna White to reveal letters with just a simple touch of a button.
March 17 Toonami debuts on Cartoon Network.
April 1 The cable channel CBS Eye on People (later known as Discovery People) debuted. Also, Jeopardy! host Alex Trebek hosts Wheel of Fortune while Pat Sajak & Vanna White play for charity and Sajak's wife Lesly in charge of the puzzleboard. In turn, Sajak hosts Jeopardy! on this date as well.
April 7 Disney Channel is revamped with the premiere of Pocahontas.
April 13 Extreme Championship Wrestling broadcasts its first ever pay-per-view dubbed "Barely Legal".
April 30 The Ellen episode, "The Puppy Episode" is broadcast on ABC, showing for the first time the revelation of a main character as a homosexual.
May 7 Disney Channel begins Playhouse Disney for preschoolers.
CBS begins airing the two-part Knots Landing reunion miniseries Knots Landing: Back to the Cul-de-Sac, airing on two non-consecutive nights, on May 7 and May 9.
May 9 Bob Saget hosts his final regular episode of America's Funniest Home Videos on ABC, with the other cast members of Full House, minus The Olsen Twins.
June 2 The Simpsons begins airing in the Republic of Ireland for the very first time on Network 2 after not airing in the country for a long time since it first started as a series of animated shorts on The Tracey Ullman Show.
June 6 Farrah Fawcett makes a bizarre appearance on CBS's Late Show with David Letterman. Fawcett tells long, rambling stories without a purpose, fails to understand simple questions, and gets easily distracted by things like blinking lights on the set.
June 21 The Professional Bowlers Tour ends after 36 years on ABC. CBS assumes the rights to the tour and will televise several events over the next two years.
June 30 In Seattle, KIRO-TV (CBS) and KSTW (UPN) reverse their 1995 swap.
July 9 NewSport ends after four years.
July 14 Johnny Bravo premieres on Cartoon Network.
July 15
A tribute episode of Another World is broadcast on NBC in honor of Victoria Wyndham's 25 years with the program.
Cow and Chicken and its secondary series I Am Weasel premiere on Cartoon Network. The Cartoon Cartoon programming block also makes its debut on the network.
August 25 Rugrats returns to Nickelodeon with new regular episodes. It had been cancelled during 1994 but received a reprieve for a fourth season in 1995. (Four special episodes were broadcast during this time, but are not counted as part of the series's normal run.)
August 31 WFFF-TV in Burlington, Vermont signs-on the air, giving the Burlington/Plattsburgh market its first full-time Fox affiliate (prior to this, Fox programming was seen on a secondary basis on CBS affiliate WCAX-TV).[1]
September 1 Disney Channel converts from subscription television to a regular channel after 14 years.
September 6 Various networks broadcast the Princess Diana funeral; 2.7 million viewers at home watched this special.
September 8 Rugrats receives its very first transmission on Irish television on Network 2 with the series being shown on The Den.
September 13 ABC revamps its Saturday morning cartoon schedule, and adds more new series from parent company Disney to become Disney's One Saturday Morning. This, along with many other programming, was delayed one week from its originally planned debut as a result of the aforementioned Princess Diana funeral.
September 14 The 49th Primetime Emmy Awards presentation was broadcast on CBS.
September 19 After several years of being a part of ABC's successful "TGIF" sitcom programming block, Family Matters and Step by Step switch to CBS to form the basis of the "CBS Block Party", a direct competitor to TGIF. Both series, as well as the Block Party, will be cancelled after one season.
September 25 ER produces a live episode for its fourth season premiere.
September 26 Jeopardy!'s 3,000th syndicated episode airs. The categories in the Jeopardy! and Final Jeopardy! rounds from its debut episode in 1984 are used on this episode.
October 1 PRISM and SportsChannel Philadelphia, cease broadcasting to make way for Comcast SportsNet Philadelphia.
October 25 Chris Farley guest hosts Saturday Night Live in what would turn out to be his final television appearance before his death on December 18, 1997.
October 31 Detroit regional sports network PASS Sports goes off the air.
November 2 A third production of Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II's version of Cinderella was aired on ABC. This version, featuring Brandy Norwood and Whitney Houston, was produced by ABC's parent company The Walt Disney Company (which made its own version of the story as an animated movie during 1950).
November 6 The NBC discussion show Meet the Press celebrates its 50th anniversary.
November 9 During a pay-per-view broadcast of the World Wrestling Federation's Survivor Series, then-WWF Champion Bret Hart loses his title to Shawn Michaels. The finish is mired in controversy when WWF chairman Vince McMahon, who had been sitting at ringside, orders Earl Hebner, the assigned referee, to end the match as Michaels is holding Hart in Hart's own finishing maneuver, the Sharpshooter, even though Hart had not submitted. The incident becomes known as the Montreal Screwjob and will mark the final appearance of Hart on WWE television until 2010.[2]
November 17 Rick Rude becomes the only person to appear on both USA Network's Raw and TNT's Monday Nitro on the same night. Whereas the Raw that aired that night was pre-recorded six days in advanced, Rude appeared on a live edition of Nitro about an hour earlier.
November 23 King of the Hill starts being screened in Australia for the first time on Seven Network.
November 29 The Emergency Broadcast System is replaced by the Emergency Alert System and it continues to this day.
December 15 World Wrestling Federation chairman Vince McMahon announces the introduction of the Attitude Era (a term used by WWF for its adult-oriented programming) in a segment entitled "The Cure for the Common Show" from an episode of Raw Is War. The WWF Attitude's scratch logo also makes its on-screen debut within the episode, replacing the New Generation's block logo.
December 23 Trio, a channel devoted to CBC programs, debuts for United States viewers.



Date Show Network
January 1 Cooking Live Food Network
January 4 Lost on Earth USA Network
January 6 Sunset Beach NBC
January 7 Orleans CBS
January 8 Chicago Sons NBC
January 9 Antiques Roadshow PBS
January 12 King of the Hill Fox
January 13 La Femme Nikita USA Network
The New Adventures of Robin Hood TNT
January 19 Emeril Live Food Network
February 7 The Chris Rock Show HBO
February 28 Crisis Center NBC
March 2 The Country Mouse and the City Mouse Adventures HBO
March 3 Daria MTV
Pauly Fox
Spy Game ABC
March 4 Just Shoot Me! NBC
The Practice ABC
March 5 Arsenio
Temporarily Yours CBS
March 6 Prince Street NBC
March 10 Buffy the Vampire Slayer The WB
March 18 Social Studies UPN
March 22 Lawless Fox
March 26 Smart Guy The WB
April 1 Religion & Ethics Newsweekly PBS
Viva Variety Comedy Central
April 2 Smart Guy The WB
April 5 The Crocodile Hunter Animal Planet
April 9 Pacific Palisades Fox
April 10 Fired Up NBC
April 12 Gun ABC
Leaving L.A.
April 14 ¡Despierta América! Univision
April 15 Soul Man ABC
April 19 Nightmare Ned
The Angry Beavers Nickelodeon
Power Rangers Turbo Fox Kids
May 16 Todd McFarlane's Spawn HBO
May 25 Beyond Belief: Fact or Fiction Fox
June 2 Port Charles ABC
June 6 Life... and Stuff CBS
June 7 CNN NewsStand CNN
Perversions of Science HBO
July 7 Figure It Out Nickelodeon
July 11 Spicy City HBO
July 12 Oz
July 14 Roar Fox
Johnny Bravo Cartoon Network
July 15 Cow and Chicken
I Am Weasel
July 21 Mission Genesis Sci-Fi Channel
July 27 Stargate SG-1 Showtime
July 28 Win Ben Stein's Money Comedy Central
August 4 USA High USA Network
August 11 The View ABC
August 13 South Park Comedy Central
August 17 Behind the Music VH1
The World's Funniest! Fox
August 25 Good News UPN
August 26 Head over Heels
August 30 Recess ABC
September 1 101 Dalmatians: The Series Syndication
Fox News Watch Fox News Channel
Pensacola: Wings of Gold USA Network
Extreme Dinosaurs Syndication
September 5 Kipper Nick Jr.
September 6 Click Syndication
City Guys NBC
September 7 Alright Already The WB
The Tom Show
Popular Mechanics for Kids Syndication
September 8 Ally McBeal Fox
September 11 Between Brothers
413 Hope St.
September 12 Ninja Turtles: The Next Mutation Fox Kids
Police Academy: The Series Syndication
September 13 Pepper Ann ABC
Science Court
The Crayon Box Syndication
The Legend of Calamity Jane Kids' WB
The New Batman Adventures
The New Batman/Superman Adventures
The Weird Al Show CBS
Wheel 2000
September 13 Fudge
The New Ghostwriter Mysteries
September 15 Breaker High UPN
George & Leo CBS
The Gregory Hines Show
Michael Hayes
The Mr. Men Show Syndication
September 18 Cracker ABC
Nothing Sacred
September 19 The Visitor Fox
September 22 Timecop ABC
The Ink and Paint Club The Disney Channel
Brooklyn South CBS
September 23 Dellaventura
Dharma & Greg ABC
Hiller and Diller
September 24 Public Eye with Bryant Gumbel CBS
Built to Last NBC
The Tony Danza Show
Union Square
September 25 Veronica's Closet
September 26 Meego CBS
Teen Angel ABC
You Wish
September 27 Soldier of Fortune, Inc. Syndication
The Tony Danza Show NBC
Total Security
September 28 Jenny
September 29 The Big Garage TLC
October 1 Amp MTV
Daily News Live CSN Philadelphia
Wimzie's House PTV
October 4 The Adventures of Sam & Max: Freelance Police Fox Kids
Fame L.A. Syndication
October 6 Earth: Final Conflict
Team Knight Rider
The Edge CNBC
October 8 Working NBC
October 10 Raging Planet Discovery Channel
October 11 C-16: FBI ABC
Men in Black: The Series Kids' WB
October 17 Players NBC
October 20 Bear in the Big Blue House Playhouse Disney
Channel Umptee-3 Kids' WB
October 21 Over the Top ABC
November 1 Sleepwalkers NBC
November 3 Franklin CBS Kidshow
November 4 Autoline Detroit WTVS
Cartoon Sushi MTV
Enjoying Everyday Life Syndication
My Classic Car TNN
November 8 The Journey of Allen Strange Nickelodeon
November 28 Tenacious D HBO

Returning this yearEdit

Show Last aired Previous network New title New network Returned
Dexter's Laboratory 1996 TBS/TNT Same Cartoon Network March 26
Space Ghost Coast to Coast July 18
Rugrats 1994 Nickelodeon Same August 23
The People's Court 1993 Syndication September 8
Cartoon Planet 1996 TBS Cartoon Network September 9
Batman: The Animated Series 1995 Fox Kids The New Batman Adventures Kids' WB September 13
Muppets Tonight 1996 ABC Same Disney Channel
The Wonderful World of Disney Disney Channel ABC September 28

Ending this yearEdit

Date Show Debut
January 1 Kung Fu: The Legend Continues 1993
January 3 Small Talk 1996
January 12 Kirk 1995
January 17 Mighty Ducks 1996
January 27 Ned & Stacey 1995
Space Cases 1996
January 31 Wait 'til You Have Kids
February 15 Gargoyles 1994
February 22 C Bear and Jamal 1996
Road Rovers
February 24 Savannah
March 15 Dangerous Minds
March 28 The City 1995
April 2 Lost on Earth 1997
EZ Streets 1996
April 3 The Disney Channel 1983
April 4 Dragon Flyz 1996
Crisis Center 1997
April 7 Pauly
April 14 Relativity 1996
April 16 The Real Adventures of Jonny Quest
April 23 Arsenio 1997
May 1 Martin 1992
May 13 Homeboys in Outer Space 1996
May 14 Coach 1989
May 17 Waynehead 1996
May 18 Brotherly Love 1995
May 19 The Cape 1996
Goode Behavior
May 20 The Burning Zone
Roseanne (returned in 2018) 1988
May 21 Wings 1990
May 22 Moloney 1996
May 30 Caryl & Marilyn: Real Friends
May 31 Dark Skies
June 1 Freakazoid! 1995
June 9 Married... with Children 1987
June 14 Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman 1993
June 25 Pearl 1996
July 18 Dave's World 1993
August 1 Eek! The Cat 1992
August 9 Nightmare Ned 1997
August 18 The Site 1996
August 29 The Disney Afternoon 1990
August 30 Hangin' with Mr. Cooper 1992
The Mask: Animated Series 1995
September 5 The Gordon Elliott Show 1994
September 6 Duckman
September 7 Family Challenge 1995
September 20 X-Men 1992
September 26 Lamb Chop's Play-Along
September 27 The Legend of Calamity Jane 1997
October 12 The Big Easy 1996
October 24 Meego 1997
October 28 Head over Heels
November 2 The Twisted Tales of Felix the Cat 1995
November 4 Over the Top 1997
November 11 Hitz
November 23 The Incredible Hulk 1996
November 24 Power Rangers Turbo 1997
November 28 Beavis and Butt-head (returned in 2011) 1993
What a Cartoon! (returned in 2000) 1995
December 7 Aaahh!!! Real Monsters 1994
December 10 The Tony Danza Show 1997
December 12 Where in Time Is Carmen Sandiego? 1996
December 17 Men Behaving Badly
December 21 Weinerville 1993
December 22 Johnny Bravo (returned in 1999) 1997
December 24 Extreme Dinosaurs 1997
December 27 Hee Haw 1969

Made-for-TV moviesEdit

Title Network Date of airing
Miss Evers' Boys HBO February 22
12 Angry Men Showtime August 17
Northern Lights Disney Channel August 23
Under Wraps October 25
Don King: Only in America HBO November 15
What the Deaf Man Heard CBS November 23


Title Network Premiere
The Shining ABC April 27
Knots Landing: Back to the Cul-de-Sac CBS May 7
The Last Don May 11
The Odyssey NBC May 18
George Wallace TNT August 24

Changes of network affiliationEdit

Show Moved from Moved to
Unsolved Mysteries
Family Matters ABC
Step by Step
Muppets Tonight Disney Channel
The Naked Truth NBC
Clueless UPN
Sweet Valley High Syndication
Sliders Fox Syfy
Mystery Science Theater 3000 Comedy Central
Politically Incorrect ABC
The Wonderful World of Disney The Disney Channel
Batman: The Animated Series Fox Kids Kids' WB
Dexter's Laboratory TBS and TNT Cartoon Network
Cartoon Planet
Space Ghost Coast to Coast
The Bugs Bunny Show
The Real Adventures of Jonny Quest Toonami
G-Force: Guardians of Space
Voltron USA Network
Babylon 5 PTEN TNT

Entering syndication this yearEdit

Show Seasons In Production Source
Boy Meets World 4 Yes <ref>
Due South 3 Yes <ref>
Frasier 4 Yes <ref>
Grace Under Fire 4 Yes <ref>
Living Single 4 Yes <ref>
NYPD Blue 4 Yes <ref>
Walker, Texas Ranger 5 Yes <ref>
The X-Files 4 Yes <ref>

Television stationsEdit

Station launchesEdit

Date Market Station Channel Affiliation
February 9 Orange Park/Jacksonville, Florida WJXX 25 ABC
April 14 Providence, Rhode Island
(New Bedford, Massachusetts)
June 5 Paducah, Kentucky WDKA 49 UPN
July 8 Seattle, Washington KONG 16 Independent
August 13 Lewiston/Portland, Maine WPME 35 UPN
August 31 Burlington, Vermont/Plattsburgh, New York WFFF-TV 44 Fox
September 15 Columbia, South Carolina WQHB 63 UPN/The WB
September 20 Crossville/Knoxville, Tennessee WBXX-TV 20 The WB
Gainesville, Florida WGFL 53
December 1 Little Rock, Arkansas KVUT 42 inTV

Stations changing network affiliationEdit

Market Date Station Channel Prior affiliation New affiliation
Campbellsville, Kentucky January 1 WGRB 34 FOX The WB
Charleston, South Carolina January 6 WMMP 36 The WB UPN
Jacksonville, Florida February 9 WJKS-TV 17 ABC The WB
Seattle-Tacoma, Washington June 30 KIRO-TV 7 UPN CBS


Date Name Notability
January 7 Kyle Stanger English actor (Lumpy on My Friends Tigger & Pooh)
January 9 Lauryn McClain Actress
January 11 Cody Simpson Australian actor
January 13 Natalia Dyer Actress (Stranger Things)
January 17 Jake Paul Actor (Bizaardvark)
Jazzy Williams Actress (WITS Academy)
January 21 Jeremy Shada Actor (Incredible Crew), Voice actor (Batman: The Brave and the Bold, Adventure Time)
January 24 Jonah Bobo Voice actor (Austin on The Backyardigans)
Dylan Riley Snyder Actor (Kickin' It)
February 7 Matthew Gumley Voice actor (Benny on Dora the Explorer (2008–14))
February 9 Kathryn Newton Actress (Gary Unmarried, Supernatural, Halt and Catch Fire)
February 10 Chloë Grace Moretz Actress (My Friends Tigger & Pooh, Carrie, The 5th Wave)
February 12 Shane Baumel Voice actor (Tipo on The Emperor's New School)
February 27 Erica Huang Voice actress (June on Little Einsteins)
March 11 Matreya Fedor Canadian actress (Mr. Young)
March 16 Tyrel Jackson Williams Actor (The Backyardigans, Lab Rats)
March 18 Ciara Bravo Actress (Big Time Rush, Red Band Society, Second Chance)
April 8 Sadie Calvano Actress (Mom)
April 15 Maisie Williams English actress (Game of Thrones)
April 16 Tiarnie Coupland Australian actress (Worst Year of My Life Again)
April 24 Autumn Wendel Actress (Every Witch Way)
May 9 Zane Huett Actor (Desperate Housewives)
May 21 Kevin Quinn Actor (Bunk'd)
May 30 Jake Short Actor (A.N.T. Farm, Mighty Med, Lab Rats: Elite Force, All Night)
June 5 Denisea Wilson Actress (Every Witch Way)
June 17 KJ Apa New-Zealand actor (Riverdale)
June 20 Maria Lark Actress (Medium)
July 2 Jackson Odell Actor that appeared in The Goldbergs, iCarly, and Modern Family (d. 2018)
July 4 Daniela Nieves Venezuelan-American Actress (Every Witch Way, WITS Academy)
July 7 Gatlin Green Actress (Heroes Reborn)
July 13 Leo Howard Actor (Kickin' It, Shake It Up)
July 20 Billi Bruno Actress (According to Jim)
July 22 Field Cate Actor (Pushing Daisies)
August 2 Christina Robinson Actor (Dexter)
August 5 Olivia Holt Actress (Kickin' It, I Didn't Do It, Cloak & Dagger)
Adam Irigoyen Actor (Shake It Up)
August 10 Kylie Jenner Actress (Keeping Up with the Kardashians)
August 11 Alexander Martella Actor
August 16 Piper Curda Actress (Randy Cunningham: 9th Grade Ninja, A.N.T. Farm, I Didn't Do It)
August 25 Bryana Salaz Actress (Best Friends Whenever) and singer
August 28 Emilia McCarthy Canadian actress (Max & Shred)
September 7 Dean-Charles Chapman English actor (Game of Thrones)
September 16 Elena Kampouris Actress
October 7 Kira Kosarin Actress (The Thundermans)
October 8 Bella Thorne Actress (Shake It Up, Famous in Love) and singer
October 10 Grace Rolek Voice actress (Connie Maheswaran on Steven Universe)
October 23 Zach Callison Voice actor (Sofia the First, Steven Universe)
October 24 Kendall Ryan Sanders Actor (Every Witch Way)
October 25 Tyler Alvarez Actor (Every Witch Way)
October 28 Sierra McCormick Actress (A.N.T. Farm)
Joy-Anna Forsyth Actress (19 Kids and Counting, Counting On) and television personality
October 29 Brynna Drummond Canadian voice actress
October 31 Sydney Park Actress (Instant Mom, Spirit Riding Free)
November 1 Alex Wolff Actor (The Naked Brothers Band) and singer
Max Burkholder Actor (My Friends Tigger and Pooh, Parenthood)
November 3 Carson Rowland Actor (I Am Frankie)
November 12 Ryan Cargill Actor (WITS Academy)
November 26 Aubrey Joseph Actor (Cloak & Dagger) and rapper
December 15 Maude Apatow Actress


Date Name Age Notability
January 18 Adriana Caselotti 80 Voice actress (Snow White)
February 6 Ernie Anderson 73 Voice actor and announcer (The Carol Burnett Show)
February 26 David Doyle 67 Actor (Bosley on Charlie's Angels and voice of Grandpa Lou Pickles on Rugrats)
March 15 Gail Davis 71 Actress (Annie on Annie Oakley)
April 15 Don Bexley 87 Actor (Bubba on Sanford and Son)
May 4 Alvy Moore 75 Actor (Hank Kimball on Green Acres)
May 11 Howard Morton 71 Character actor (Officer Ralph Simpson on Gimme a Break!)
May 18 Bridgette Andersen 21 Actress
May 24 Edward Mulhare 74 Actor (Captain Gregg on The Ghost & Mrs. Muir and Miles on Knight Rider)
June 8 Reid Shelton 72 Actor (1st & Ten: The Championship)
June 14 Richard Jaeckel 70 Actor (Baywatch, Spenser for Hire)
June 24 Brian Keith 75 Actor (Uncle Bill on Family Affair)
July 1 Robert Mitchum 79 Actor
July 2 James Stewart 89 Actor
July 4 Charles Kuralt 62 Journalist (CBS News Sunday Morning)
August 27 Brandon Tartikoff 48 President of NBC
September 9 Burgess Meredith 89 Actor (The Penguin on Batman)
September 17 Red Skelton 84 Comedian (The Red Skelton Show)
October 5 Brian Pillman 35 Professional wrestler
October 9 Arch Johnson 75 Character actor (Camp Runamuck)
October 16 Audra Lindley 79 Actress (Mrs. Roper on Three's Company)
October 24 Don Messick 71 Voice actor (Scooby-Doo)
October 30 Sydney Newman 80 Producer (The Avengers, Doctor Who)
November 25 Charles Hallahan 54 Actor (Hunter)
December 18 Chris Farley 33 Comedian (Saturday Night Live)
December 24 Toshiro Mifune 77 Japanese actor
December 25 Denver Pyle 77 Actor (Uncle Jesse on The Dukes of Hazzard)
December 31 Michael LeMoyne Kennedy 39 American socialite and son of Robert F. Kennedy


  1. ^ Fybush, Scott (September 4, 1997). "You Drive 1100 Miles And What Do You Get?". North East RadioWatch. Retrieved August 28, 2016.
  2. ^ "WWE Championship Match: Shawn Michaels def. Bret "Hit Man" Hart to become new WWE Champion". World Wrestling Entertainment. November 9, 1997. Retrieved March 2, 2015.