NBC vs. YouTube: The Blogosphere’s Bottom-Up Backlash Against Big Media
Denise Mann / University of California – Los Angeles

Unofficial portrait of NBC’s [depicted as Star Wars Darth Sideous’s] attack on YouTube Co-creator Steve Chen

NBC Universal CEO Jeff Zucker

NOWHERE IS THE CLASH between big media and the new social media, between the dominant classes and the unwashed masses, between the traditional culture industry and the new, participatory culture associated with the Internet more evident than in the Draconian effort by NBC Universal CEO Jeff Zucker to bring down Google-owned YouTube—the populist home of mixed media mash-ups and amateur, user-generated content—and replace it with big-budget, copyrighted, mass media content on the multi-network owned and operated Hulu.com. Signaling what Barry Diller has characterized as the “creative chaos” of the moment, the photo mash-up at the top of the page uses a mixture of old and new media to portray the battle between YouTube and NBC using mythic imagery borrowed from pop culture. ((Tom Steinert-Threlkeld, “Barry Diller: The Internet ‘Absolutely’ Will Become a ‘Paid System’. Time Projection: Within 5 Years,” ZDNet.com (June 10th, 2009). www.blogs.zdnet.com/BTL/?cat=32 )) Star Wars evil emperor Darth Sideous, standing in for NBC, attacks an innocent-looking Steven Chen, the co-creator of YouTube. This overlapping of fictional and real life characters personifies the way that many avid fans adapt mainstream popular culture to serve their own ends—in this case, generating a form of activism that targets big media leaders for restricting users’ unfettered access to the Web.

YouTube’s Motto

YouTube’s “broadcast yourself” motto signals a new era of production, marketing, and distribution that functions under the radar of big media. By ignoring the backlash that emerged on the blogosphere after NBC, Fox, and Viacom tried to shut down YouTube, the verticals are not only alienating their core audience—the Net generation—but also preventing themselves from envisioning a new business model that embraces rather than shuns the untapped volume of users zealously engaging media on YouTube.

Chart indicating Google-YouTube’s Large Percentage of Users

As recently as 2007, NBC’s Chief Marketing Officer John Miller was still engaged in a series of intriguing conversations with YouTube about partnering with the user-generated content giant after the famous SNL skit “Lazy Sunday” went viral on YouTube without NBC’s permission. However, Zucker fired back that “YouTube was built on the back of our ‘Lazy Sunday’ SNL video. Sold for $1.6 billion, built on our equity.” ((Peter Kafka, “NBC CEO Jeff Zucker: Hulu Will Start Breaking Even ‘Soon,’” All Things Digital.com (May 29, 2009) http://d7.allthingsd.com/20090528/d7-interview-nbc-universal-ceo-jeff-zucker/)) Zucker’s outrage prompted NBC to join forces with Fox to create Hulu.com. ((Heather Hopkins, “YouTube Tipping Point Question,” Hitwise.com (November 24, 2008). weblogs.hitwise.com/us-heather-hopkins/2008/1…)) Viacom, Fox, and most recently Disney, have also filed suits against YouTube and are closing ranks by joining Hulu.com.

YouTube’s Tipping Point…

…Was it SNL’s Lazy Sunday?

One of the biggest challenges YouTube faces is advertisers’ steadfast adherence to the old-fashioned logic of mass media ownership. ((Paul Boutin, “Hulu Sneaks Up on YouTube’s Ad Market, ValleyWag.com (August 21, 2008). gawker.com/5039976/hulu-sneaks-up-on-youtubes…)) Even though Hulu has only 2 percent of YouTube’s volume of users, Hulu has outpaced YouTube in ad sales. While advertisers are eager to sponsor Hulu’s copyright-protected, professional content, YouTube has only been able to sell ads on less than 3% of its predominantly user generated content. It is this divide that is shaping the future of video streaming in favor of the “verticals.” For instance, within a year of its launch date in October 2007, Hulu had already landed “big-ad-budget consumer brands like Dove” for ABC’s short-lived J.J. Abrams series, What About Brian, and NBC was able to land the big-ad-budget Nissan account for Heroes.((Ibid)) In contrast, Znet’s Larry Dignan coyly observes: “Finding the business model for YouTube has become a bit of a parlor game these days.” ((Larry Dignan, “Google moves to show YouTube has ‘a very credible business model,” ZDNet.com (July 17th, 2009). blogs.zdnet.com/BTL/?p=19552))

Hulu is able to land big-ad-budget consumer brands like Dove

THE UNSPOKEN THREAT TO CORPORATE CULTURE posed by the unfiltered world of the Web is the ability of individual consumers to take on big media leaders mano-a-mano via the blogosphere. As NMS president Peter Snyder warns, “A single disgruntled consumer with a modem can now go toe to toe with Coca-Cola,” he says. ((Ken Adelman, “Arlington’s New Media Strategies: Interview with Peter Snyder,” Washington.com (Oct. 1, 2006). http://www.washingtonian.com/articles/businesscareers/1658.html)) “Ten years ago, what was he going to do? Harass some poor secretary?” Snyder continues, “Through user-generated content, you can use blogs, message boards, and chat rooms to voice your opinion to the top brass. And your views will be there, living forever online for everyone to see.” ((Ibid.)) Media scholars Bernard Cova, Robert V. Kozinets, and Avi Shankar describe this new type of engaged and sometimes rebellious audience as a “consumer tribe.” They write:

Active and enthusiastic in their consumption, sometimes in the extreme, [consumer] tribes produce a range of identities, practices, rituals, meanings, and even material culture itself. They re-script roles, twist meanings, and shout back to producers and other groups of people while they fashion their own differentiation strategies. They both absorb and resist the pre-packaged, off-the-shelf, brand-and-product meanings of marketers.((Bernard Cova, Robert V. Kozinets, and Avi Shankar, eds., Consumer Tribes (Oxford: Buttworth-Heinemann, 2007), 4.))

In a previous essay, I focused on the efforts by the mainstream press, the trades, and NBC’s corporate public relations departments to invoke a cohesive vision of Zucker’s top-down approach to the network’s digital future. This “official” version of NBC’s policy stands in stark contrast to the unofficial, bottom-up, industry-savvy blogs like Defamer, Media Wire Daily, Jossip, and the Huffington Post, where Zucker and former NBC President Ben Silverman are routinely parodied. ((Seth, “Forward-thinker Ben Silverman Safeguards NBC From Inevitable 0/0 Audience Share,” Defamer.com (September 15, 2008). gawker.com/5050017/forward+thinker-ben-silver…. Also, “Ben Silverman Assures that Poor Audience Results Are Norm for NBC,” Jossip.com (March 24, 2009). http://www.jossip.com/ben-silverman-assures-that-poor-audience-results-are-norm-for-nbc-20090324/)) For instance, MediaWire Daily’s editor Shomari Hines writes, “NBC Uni and News Corp moving forward with their Youtube killer!” Next, he challenges the Los Angeles Times for its celebration of Hulu.com as “an advertiser-friendly destination” for NBC’s Heroes and The Office, and Fox’s Family Guy and 24.” ((Shomari Hines,”NBC Uni and News Corp moving forward with their Youtube killer!” Media Wire Daily (March 30, 2007). http://mediawiredaily.com/2006/12/big-media-determined-to-develop-youtube.html)) These blogs offer an alternative means for media scholars and media insiders alike to imagine a new future for entertainment by moving past “official” statements to consider the growing discontent being voiced by large numbers of citizen journalists, who are actively challenging the unquestioned dominance of entertainment by the big six media industries.

BY WAY OF CONCLUSION, this brief exploration of the blogosphere’s unofficial response to the “NBC vs. YouTube” lawsuit demonstrates how difficult it will be for big media players like NBC to put the genie back in the bottle; in other words, any efforts by NBC to dominate social media spaces like YouTube, My Space, Facebook, and Twitter will no doubt be accompanied by a populist outcry against a Draconian big media. Paradoxically, this populist backlash is also emerging in professionally-produced and distributed content, such as SNL’s digital short, “Natalie Raps.” Like the “Lazy Sunday” digital short that inaugurated Zucker’s lawsuit against YouTube, “Natalie Raps” challenges expectations on several fronts by having the attractive, diminutive actress channel her rebellious character from V for Vendetta to challenge Zucker’s authority by shouting obscenities at him. ((Tom Breihan, “SNL Natalie Portman Rap Skit: Shittier Than Actual Rap,” The Village Voice.com (March 10, 2006). blogs.villagevoice.com/…/snl_natalie_por.php)) Even though NBC and Zucker successfully stopped YouTube from posting SNL’s “Lazy Sunday,” the populist agenda associated with the first short has migrated to “Natalie Raps”—a viral phenomenon that originated on the official, NBC owned and operated site Hulu.com.

Still (and text) from SNL’s “Natalie Raps”

Seth Meyers: Damn Natalie ! You a crazy chick.
NP: Yo, shut the fuck up and SUCK MY DICK !!! I’m bustin’ dudes mouths like Gushers mothafucka ! Roll up on NBC and smack the shit out Jeff Zucker !!!

Image Credits:
Unofficial portrait of NBC’s [depicted as Star Wars Darth Sideous’s] attack on YouTube Co-creator Steve Chen
2. NBC Universal CEO Jeff Zucker
3. YouTube’s Motto
4. Chart indicating Google-YouTube’s Large Percentage of Users
5. YouTube’s Tipping Point…
6. …Was it SNL’s Lazy Sunday?
7. Hulu is able to land big-ad-budget consumer brands like Dove
8. Still (and text) from SNL’s “Natalie Raps”

Please feel free to comment.

Big Media’s ‘TV Everywhere’ Approach: A Top-Down Vision of the World(WideWeb)
Denise Mann / University of California – Los Angeles

Jeff Zucker, CEO NBC Universal

IN 2008, NBC UNIVERSAL CEO JEFF ZUCKER famously complained that today’s network television leaders have a choice between staying the course by focusing on “analog dollars” or gambling on an as yet uncharted online future in order to earn “digital pennies.” Stated in this fashion, it seems foolhardy for big media leaders to radically alter their traditional business practices; however, if, as Heroes creator Tim Kring suggests: “In five years, the idea of broadcast will be gone…” then this is no time for the networks to be waiting on the sidelines. ((David Kushner, “Rebel Alliance,” Fast Company.com (April 11, 2008). http://www.fastcompany.com/magazine/125/rebel-alliance.html)) Most agree that big media needs to take steps to avoid the fate of a recording industry, blindsided by Napster and by a Net generation that has grown accustomed to downloading and sharing media for free. This essay explores the “official” snapshot of NBC’s top-down approach to the future of entertainment that has emerged since 2006 in the trade press, corporate public relations releases, and Zucker’s own public proclamations and managerial tactics. The results are often inconsistent and schizophrenic, exposing the fault line running through the commercial logic of today’s culture industry; at the same time, there is mounting evidence that an anarchist spirit and anti-mass media agenda is taking hold, as evidenced by the countless “unofficial” posts and photo mash-ups targeting Zucker that are filling the blogosphere.

NBC Universal CEO Jeff Zucker (mash-up from Media Wire Daily blog)

IN A HEROES WIKI, when asked why the Heroes online content had been changed from “Heroes 360” to “Heroes Evolutions,” newly-appointed NBC Senior Producer Joe Tolerico explained that “‘Heroes 360’ was so 2006.” ((Joe Tolerico, Sn. Producer, NBC, “Interview: Joe Tolerico From Heroes Wiki.” http://heroeswiki.com/Interview:Joe_Tolerico)) On the one hand, the name change was presumably an effort to downplay the network’s corporate agenda and emphasize the social site’s creative links to the series proper. On the other hand, Tolerico was no doubt eager to gloss over the massive restructuring that has taken place at NBC in three short years. These tumultuous years of experimentation over the digital future of the network were officially launched when Zucker announced to advertisers in 2006 that “NBC 360,” the company’s plan to add broadband, mobile and other digital extensions to its shows, would be “a major selling point as we go into the upfront.” ((Jon Lafayette, “NBC 360 ‘Selling Point’ at Upfront; Zucker: Digital Important, but Linear Tops Priorities,” TelevisionWeek (May 1, 2006). http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_hb5268/is_200605/ai_n20456641/)) Almost overnight, NBC created a large and impressive dot.com group, headed by Vivi Zigler, to oversee the network’s online strategies and integrate them into the existing network bureaucracies—development, programming, marketing, and sales. The result has been a series of massive “360 media campaigns” around fan-favorite TV series like Heroes, designed to re-energize advertisers’ flagging allegiance to network television by offering a more engaged viewer. In 2007, Zucker joined forces with Fox to create Hulu.com as a “legal” alternative to YouTube. By 2008, however, Zucker famously backtracked from his embrace of the Internet to quip that the media industry, in its haste to avoid the fate of the music industry, needed to make sure “that we do not end up trading analog dollars for digital pennies.” ((Chris Morris, “Rejoice! Your digital pennies are now dimes,” Variety.com (March 19, 2009) http://weblogs.variety.com/technotainment/2009/03/rejoice-your-digital-pennies-are-now-dimes.html. )) In 2009, Zucker conceded that there are “digital dimes” to be gained from online distribution, presumably in order not to undermine the much ballyhooed Fox-NBC venture, Hulu.com. ((ibid)) In essence, Zucker has been alternating between telling advertisers that expensive TV series like Heroes, The Office, and Law & Order are still the biggest game in town and telling competitors at high-profile industry events like NAPTE that NBC still has expansive plans to monetize the Net. Zucker’s seasickness-inducing ebb and flow of opinion is indicative of the generalized anxiety felt not just by NBC but by a network business beset by an uncertain digital future.

Zucker at May 2008 Upfronts

WHAT A DIFFERENCE A YEAR MAKES. NBC’s corporate angst over the future has prompted a dizzying number of changes in the executive ranks over the past three years. In 2006, the newly-promoted CEO Zucker moved back East; NBC Entertainment President Kevin Riley (lauded for developing the critically-acclaimed FX series The Shield, Rescue Me, and Nip/Tuck) was still in charge of programming; and NBC had just launched Heroes with high expectations that they had located the transmedia heir apparent to the phenomenally successful Lost franchise on ABC. However, one year later, just before the May 2007 upfronts, Reilly (also credited with developing NBC’s few hits: Heroes, 30 Rock, and Deal or No Deal) was summarily dismissed. ((Peter Ames Carlin, “An Old-Fashioned Hollywood Immorality Tale,” IdiotBox.com (May 29, 2007). blog.oregonlive.com/peteramescarlin/2007/05/))

“NBC’s Jeff Zucker Sharpens Blade” (for Kevin Reilly, according to Defamer.com blog)

The talent-friendly Reilly was replaced by Marc Graboff and former agent and Hollywood hot-shot Ben Silverman, who is best known for advancing “product placement, marketing messages and advertiser ideology over the quality, creativity and independence of TV content,” according to Huffington Post blogger Jennifer L. Pozner. ((Jennifer L. Pozner, “NBC’s New Head Honcho Says ‘More Product Placement, Please,” The Huffington Post.com (June 28, 2009). http://www.huffingtonpost.com/jennifer-l-pozner/nbcs-new-head-honcho-says_b_50671.html))

2007’s new, short-lived regime at NBC: Marc Graboff, Jeff Zucker, Ben Silverman, Jeff Gaspin

NBC Co-Chairman Ben Silverman’s tour of duty at NBC was equally short-lived. Presumably, Silverman’s self-described “rockstar” lifestyle and abusive style of doing business did not score points with either the corporate or creative communities. ((Nikki Finke, “NBC Shake-up: My Final Analysis,” Nikki Finke’s Deadline Hollywood Daily (May 29, 2007). www.deadlinehollywooddaily.com/…/)) Silverman’s replacement, former cable executive Jeff Gaspin, was not a newcomer to NBC, having been inserted into the managerial ranks back in 2007. Even then, however, many questioned the logic of putting Gaspin in charge of Kevin Reilly, a seasoned and well-regarded network programming executive. Gaspin’s primary experience has been in cable, overseeing a number of NBC Universal’s cable companies, including USA, Bravo, and SciFi. Apparently, Gaspin’s appointment, then and now, is indicative of network television’s growing interest in their principal competitor’s ability to access not just Emmys and eyeballs—but subscribers.

“TV EVERYWHERE”—AN ORWELLIAN PHRASE that suggests big media will control all media, on the air and on-line—has gained considerable traction since the recent push to convert all analog TV sets to digital helped the cable companies reach a milestone of 100 million subscribers in 2009 (90% of households). These statistics have prompted Warner Bros. Inc and Comcast to test the waters by providing existing subscribers with broadband access to ALL forms of digital media—TV, cable, movies, games, social media, etc. According to Time Warner Inc CEO Jeff Bewkes, “TV Everywhere-style services would exceed the popularity of other Internet-video sites, including Google’s YouTube and Hulu.” ((Todd Spangler, “Pay TV’s Internet Acid Test,” Multichannel News.com (July 6, 2009). www.multichannel.com)) Bewke’s plan makes two things apparent: NBC’s gambit to destroy YouTube and replace it with Hulu may have been for naught; and big media’s top-down, blistering vision of the future of entertainment—a subscriber-based “TV Everywhere”—may prompt an even more unmanageable hornet’s nest of protest from the bottom-up blogosphere than the anti-Zucker sentiment already on display.

Image used on YouTube when videos are removed

Image Credits:
1.) Jeff Zucker, CEO NBC Universal
2.) NBC Universal CEO Jeff Zucker (mash-up from Media Wire Daily blog)
3.) Zucker at May 2008 Upfronts
4.) “NBC’s Jeff Zucker Sharpens Blade” (for Kevin Reilly, according to Defamer.com blog)
5.) 2007’s new, short-lived regime at NBC: Marc Graboff, Jeff Zucker, Ben Silverman, Jeff Gaspin
6.) Image used on YouTube when videos are removed

Does ‘Heroes 360’ Represent NBC’s Blistering Vision of the Future?
Denise Mann / University of California – Los Angeles


THE ORIGINAL IMPETUS BEHIND THIS ESSAY (and a forthcoming book) was a desire to understand the cultural-industrial circumstances that prompted NBC to replace the fantastically original and visually exciting 9th Wonders official/unofficial fan site conceived by the Heroes’ writers with the corporately-managed, official Heroes 360 website (later renamed Heroes Evolution). The kitschy, pink, hand-drawn 9th Wonders website celebrated the TV series using Tim Sales’ “metaphysical comics” and J.G.Roshell’s (aka “Mr. Fontastic”) quirky comic book fonts. ((In a Heroes Wiki interview, J.G. Roshell is asked to discuss the origins of 9th Wonders site. Q: Who else worked with you to create 9thWonders.com? Was the site your idea? When did your participation in the site end? JG: “We were teamed with Craig Byrne, who Jeph knew through his Smallville fan site. Craig conducted the interviews and compiled the content, and I designed it, with pretty much free reign from the writing crew and NBC. It was kind of just the writers’ pet project, so NBC wasn’t too concerned—they were busy enough with the official site. 9thWonders.com launched just before Comic-Con that year [2006], and the traffic just rocketed. The following year [2007], we were asked to redesign the layout so they could incorporate ads. We haven’t been contacted to do anything since. http://heroeswiki.com/Interview:JG_Roshell))

9th Wonders Artistry

The 9th Wonders site displayed an artfully-designed visual aesthetic that bridged the gap between prosumer-style fan art and professional comic book art with every page—the product of Sales’ eye-popping comic renderings, Roshell’s inventive fonts and design, and former Smallville Webmaster Craig Byrne’s insightful, appreciative interviews with cast and crew. ((Craig Byrne, webmaster for HeroSite.net, first met Heroes executive producer Greg Beeman when both worked at Smallville. Announcing Beeman’s departure in an April 27, 2007 posting, Craig expressed his appreciation for Mr Beeman and “his support over the years with HeroSite and with the years before with Smallville and KryptonSite. He’s always been supportive of fan interaction…. http://www.herosite.net/))

9th Wonders Visual Aesthetic

THE 9TH WONDERS SITE WAS THE BRAIN CHILD OF showrunner/creator Tim Kring and his senior executive producers (e.g., Jesse Alexander, Jeph Loeb, Greg Beeman, and Dennis Hammer), seen as a way to stimulate fan interest in the series just as J.J. Abrams’ Fuselage.com had previously fueled early interest in Lost. ((A Chat with J.G. Roshell, Craig Byrne, 9th Wonders official/unofficial fan site (posted July 26, 2007).)) After seeing the 9th Wonders site for the first time during the Comi-Con convention, excited fan and forum member “Ursa” posted the following blog on July 20, 2006: “…got to San Diego tonight and there were folks there who got into the Preview Night [of Heroes] at Comi-Con. They had HEROES buttons that said 9th Wonders.com. It looked like the “official site” for Heroes writers—so much stuff that I haven’t had a chance to read it all…” She continues: “…it’s a heck of a site, using a comic book theme throughout.” ((www.heroestheseries.com/nbc-launches-9th-wonders-official-site/))

HOWEVER, THE HEROES FRANCHISE was far too valuable to the network to leave its digital future to others. Under the recently expanded NBC.com group headed by Vivi Ziegler, the 40+ members of the team produced an award-winning new website in Heroes Evolution, and, in the process, greatly expanded advertiser interest in sponsoring multi-platform entertainment at NBC. ((Heroes Evolutions has twice been a finalist for the Emmy in Outstanding Creative Achievement in Interactive Media by the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences, and has also been recognized by the Webby Awards and TV Guide Online Video Awards. http://www.sliceofscifi.com/2008/08/29/heroes-landmark-100th-graphic-novel-released/)) Furthermore, if one measures the success of the official website according to the volume of user generated content it spawns, which in turn provides advertisers with a more engaged viewer, then Heroes Evolution is an unqualified success, as the chart below indicates.


However, raw statistics and quantitative analysis alone may not be enough to measure the qualitative impact of ardent fans’ obsessive fascination with the comic book aesthetic and credentials of Sales and Roshell, whose work is featured on the 9th Wonders site. For instance, Heroes Wiki interviewer Ryan Steward tells Roshell about a 9th Wonders thread devoted to brainstorming ways for the website to “evolve” and asks if “The Powers That Be [NBC] will have plans for 9th Wonders to grow or change along with the show in ways similar to those suggested in that thread?” ((http://heroeswiki.com/Interview:JG_Roshell)) This revelation that the fans want to influence NBC’s plans for the 9th Wonders site startles Roshell, who responds: “Wow, you guys are dedicated! That’s awesome.… [W]ith the popularity of the show, fans (like you with this Wiki) came along and took care of [the things the writers originally had in mind for the site]. ((ibid.))

NBC.COM HAS NOT REMOVED the 9th Wonders site altogether; however, its once fanciful pink banner (now a more staid blue) is now a mere speck in the Heroes Evolutions site, lost in the sea of webisodes, games, comics, widgets, contests, ARGs, and other interactive elements managed by the NBC dot.com group. In NBC’s defense, the whimsical 9th Wonders site probably would not have inspired the lucrative product integration deal that NBC’s sales department and Tim Kring forged in support of the Heroes Evolution site. Furthermore, comic book artists and writers typically do not have the seasoned salesmanship and merchandising and licensing chops to envision such deals. According to web-blogger Dan Taylor, by 2007, there is a new poster child of multiplatform media “in the form of Heroes which has taken Lost‘s exploitation of interactive platforms (and the web in particular) to the next level.” ((Dan Taylor, “Why ‘Heroes’ raises the bar for multiplatform media,” Fabric of Folly.com (April 12, 2007). http://www.fabricoffolly.com/2007/04/why-hereos-raises-bar-for-multiplatform.html))


THE 9TH WONDERS FAN SITE WAS BORN of a desire by the latest members of the “Hollywood’s Geek Elite,” composed of “transmedia TV” authors like Tim Kring, Jesse Alexander, and Jeph Loeb, to emulate Whedon’s strong relationship with his Buffy fans. ((David Kushner, “Rebel Alliance (How a small band of sci-fi geeks is leading Hollywood into a new era),” Fast Company.com (April 11, 2008). http://www.fastcompany.com/magazine/125/rebel-alliance.htm)) However, on a corporate level, NBC Universal President Jeff Zucker and company were looking at former agent Ben Silverman and former marketing executive Vivi Ziegler to create a new regime at NBC—one that understood how to marshal the resources of analog TV dollars associated with the creative work of talented writer-producers like Heroes Tim Kring, while at the same time satisfying advertisers’ desire to engage with audiences through a myriad of digital platforms. Of course, the event that really rocked the broadcast TV industry to its core was the 2007 WGA strike when the writers squared off with the networks over digital—specifically, over whether web-extensions of expensive, broadcast series like Heroes constituted “content” or “promotions.” However, this hot potato will have to be the subject of a later installment of this meditation on the meaning of Heroes 360 for the future of entertainment.


Image Credits:
2.) 9th Wonders Artistry
3.) 9th Wonders Visual Aesthetic

Please feel free to comment.