Euronews was created in 1992 and launched on January 1, 1993, with the backing of the European Union, by a group of 11 European public broadcasters from the European Broadcasting Union (EBU). Its founders shared the opinion that it is important to have an all-news channel in continental European languages as a counterweight to English-language news channels like CNN and BBC World. The need for such a station became particularly relevant after the end of the Gulf War, during which the war of media coverage was “won�?Template:Ref1 by CNN. Consequently, Euronews assumed the task of being CNN’s counterpart in order to protect the old continent from an “inundation by television images from the US.�?Template:Ref1 In addition, the channel was assigned the important responsibility to serve the integration of Europe by promoting a common European self-realization and citizenship. As the Adonnino Report suggests, a European television station would have an integrative effect and strengthen and promote the identity of the European Community among its citizens and its image in the rest of the worldTemplate:Ref1. The service itself describes its role as being Europe’s news channel covering world news from a European perspective in seven languages. Olivier Baisnee and Dominique Marchetti, who have conducted extensive research on the work and goals of the channel, summarize its role as a political tool aimed at combating the Anglo-Saxon domination over international information and in general over the “culture�? of Europe shaped by the emerging European institutionsTemplate:Ref1.

This article will look at the creation and development of Euronews, its strengths and weaknesses in rivaling the reach of CNN and exercising a defining effect on the European Community’s citizens. The article will also provide an overview of the channel’s programming and its position in the broadcasting markets today.

Euronews is the result of a long-term endeavor to create a “European channel.�? Its predecessors - EURIKON, a European Commission project, and Europa TV, an initiative of the Netherlands, failed to fulfill this goal. However, such a medium was needed for the European Union’s communication with the general public both on the continent, and throughout the world. The political life of EU institutions is rarely given extensive coverage in national news. Its constantly evolving, complex character and the lack of headline-type events in its every-day routine – councils, plenary sessions, press conferences etc., are not considered “sexy�? TV-materialTemplate:Ref1. At the same time, the end of the 20th century brought bout important political and economic changes for the European Communities that needed the attention of the general European public and raised the question of European citizenship. Through the channel, the European Commission wanted to both explain its policies and engage the Community’s citizens in a more active participation in the Community life. As Marcel Machill notes in his study, Euronews: the first European news channel as a case study for media industry development in Europe and for spectra of transnational journalism research:

This [1980s] was the decade of advances at the European level: the European Parliament demanded a joint television, the European Commission was working on the Directive “Television without Frontiers.�? The European Community, only rarely the subject of journalistic reporting on account of its frequently abstract and protracted processes, wanted to create an image for itself on the television screen.Template:Ref1

The main objective of the Television without Frontiers Directive was to facilitate the free flow of audiovisual products across Europe and create a European audiovisual spaceTemplate:Ref1. When pursuing this goal, the Commission took into consideration the crucial function of information for the unification of Europe and the formation of a European identityTemplate:Ref1. At the same time, as the former Italian president of Euronews Massimo Fichera underlined, “information is too important to be left to one country,�?Template:Ref1 referring to the American dominance over international information.

Both these arguments attracted the attention of the EBU members and the support of the Commission for the co-production of programs. In the foreseen programming the policies of the European Community had to be allocated sufficient television time and explained appropriately. This was the political frame underlying the channel. Olivier Baisnee and Dominique Marchetti note that �?even if in the every-day functioning of the channel, Euronews is not subordinate to the European institutions […] there exists a strong political intent at the Community level directed toward promoting the birth of a multilingual media of a European vocation.�?Template:Ref1Appropriately, the launch of Euronews followed the ratification of the Maastricht Treaty and the launch of the Common Foreign and Security Policy and the cooperation in Justice and Home Affairs, thus corresponding to the ongoing political transformations and symbolizing the unifying European spectrum in every sphere, including the audiovisual.

In the 12 years of its existence, Euronews has encountered many difficulties deriving from its complex international nature and the pursuit of its difficult mission. Funding was a serious issue, which led the channel to abandon the concept of public broadcasting for some time. Until spring 2003, 51% of the capital was owned by public channels, and 49% by private operators – the French Alcatel Alsthom (1995-1997) and the British ITN (1997-2003). Today, Euronews is owned 100% by 20 European public broadcasters. The channel has established itself on the international broadcasting market, finding an information necessity it is able to satisfy. However, Euronews still faces challenges.

Analysts remain ambivalent towards Euronews’s potential to form a common European identity among EU citizens. Marcel Machill examines the role of television as a means of integration. According to his study, the unifying and integrative effect of Euronews, has been disclaimed in most of the earlier literature on the subject, even though more optimistic previsions began to emerge in the middle of the 90s. Marcel Machill cites a 1993 Schlesinger claim that “the making, if only in part, of a common European culture and identity via trans-border flows of European-made television seems today almost naïve aspiration.�?Template:Ref1 However, a year later Siebenhaar writes that “it is precisely the audiovisual media which are particularly suited to performing an essential part of this task of integration.�?Template:Ref1 And in 1995 Murciano states that Euronews “shows itself to be the great opportunity and panacea with regard to reaching the common horizon by means of a European cultural identity.�?Template:Ref1 Machill himself points out that Europe is not unified politico-culturally, and therefore Euronews cannot create the effect of a “national experience,�? that individual national televisions stations have.Template:Ref1

There are several disadvantages in the making of the programming itself which hamper the transnational perspective of Euronews’s broadcastings. Euronews is a television without presenters and correspondents in the field. It does not gather its own material, and for the most part depends on outside sources of images. Olivier Baisnee and Dominique Marchetti describe it as “a channel of post-production, that is to say a television without cameras or almost.�?Template:Ref1 The main audiovisual sources for Euronews are the two agencies for international images Associated Press Television News and Reuters, and the national partner-channels that exchange images within the European Broadcasting Union.

This dependence on outsourced content transforms the entire concept of Euronews as a channel covering world news from a European perspective, since it does not in fact produce news, but selects news material relevant to European topics instead. Moreover, Euronews is dependant on a particular outside source – the big Anglo-Saxon agencies – Reuters (UK) and APTN (USA), whose dominance over international news information it aims to defy. This provision of images from outside sources limits the editorial freedom at Euronews and interferes with the European bent of its coverage. The channel is sometimes even compelled to abandon certain topics due to lack of footage. These problems are described in the following interview with an Italian journalist in charge of one of Euronews’s programs.

We depend on the providers. For example: I see a nice story, very interesting and everything. If I don’t have the images, I can’t do this story. There you go. And the images from the agencies … from the big agencies, it is not always easy to work with them. Because they have their own vision, and we depend on the vision of others. And we depend on the vision of a culture which sometimes is not necessarily associated with the culture of Euronews, it is not associated with the European culture, it is not associated with the culture of certain European countries. We depend at large on a mentality and a culture that is Anglo-Saxon. […] And the reason is not that it is an editorial choice. It is simply a concrete necessity.Template:Ref1

In addition, the channel also receives news footage from national providers, which exchange material inside the EBU. Their product, on the other hand, is intended for a particular national audience and not for the whole of Europe. Altogether, this mixture of material produced originally for a different purpose and target audience by Euronews’s main rivals interferes with the mission of conferring a European perspective on news and shaping a common European identity among citizens.

However, Euronews deals with these challenges in several ways and manages to find a niche in news broadcasting. First, while using the same footage as other international and/or national broadcasters, the channel strives toward a different “lead.�? This pursuit is addressed in the following interview with a Euronews editor in chief:

There is a strong, strong competition, obviously CNN and the BBC, but the national channels as well. Against this great competition, it is very important for us, I think, to find a unique position on the market. And for us, this unique position is: we are not a national channel, but we are not a global channel like CNN and the BBC either. We are a European channel. […] We are also unique at the level of languages. Namely that we speak to the public in their own language. […] Throughout all hours of the day, with an agenda that’s always European we are unique. […] For example, when Bill Clinton gave the “State of the Union Address�? […] BBC and CNN made it their top story […] We placed this second, but for us, the lead was the growing crisis in Austria […] We always try to find a European lead and a European angle of the stories.Template:Ref1

In addition to presenting a different hierarchy of news headlines, Euronews tries to win international audiences by covering themes largely absent on the screens of the big Anglo-Saxon broadcasters. As noticed by one CNN correspondent, “unless American soldiers are there, American television is not there.�?Template:Ref1 This observation about network coverage of foreign stories is particularly relevant for the countries of Eastern Europe where Euronews is an established brand. Its position in the Eastern-European news market is verified in the following statement by the director of distribution, “Nowadays, the way that Euronews presents [international] news is very well perceived in Europe, because it is not American, because, especially in Eastern Europe, Euronews covers topics which are never covered, current topics which are never covered by CNN.�?Template:Ref1

In summary, even though dependant on outside sources, Euronews’s manages to achieve a European point of view by combining diverse material from both international and national broadcasters. It shapes a common European perspective by compiling coverage of a much wider variety of issues spanning the entire continent. Ultimately, compared to its rivals, Euronews has a clear European remit. This characteristic of its programming is portrayed in the following survey.

EU reporting is under-represented among national television stations. For example, 90 percent of the economic reports featured in the main German news, the Tagesschau (ADR), relate to national events. By contrast, in the case of the news at Euronews, EU topics account for 78 percent of the reporting on economic issues (Meckel, 1994: 283). The same applies to reporting on individual EU member states (i.e. on topics apart from the European Commission, European Parliament, the Council of Europe, etc.). In a comparison of the structure of the news presented by Arte, the BBC World Service, CNN, Euronews, ITN, the Tagesschau and TV5/FT2 Meckel (1994: 291) established that Euronews broadcasts the most diverse news if the variety of EU states is regarded as the decisive criterion. By contrast, during the sampling period (for the EU member states), CNN only reported on Britain, Italy and Spain. There is therefore an opportunity here for Euronews to fill a gap.Template:Ref1

The European perspective is also achieved by the diversity of its language broadcasts, an advantage Euronews is most often noted for. Indeed, Euronews is currently the only European news television company to transmit simultaneously in seven languages for 24 hours a day. Its continuous information programs are presented in English, French, German, Italian, Portuguese, Spanish, and Russian. The channel is also considering future broadcasting in Arabic and Bulgarian. The goal is to expand Euronews’s service in order to engage as much of the population throughout the continent as possible, and also to speak to the entire world.

The aim of speaking to the world in an understandable manner is represented in the style and language used by Euronews journalists. In an interview taken by Olivier Baisnee and Dominique Marchetti, an English journalist describes the position of British journalists at Euronews. The case of British journalists is especially symbolic, since the channel has only limited distribution in the UK, due to the rivalry with the BBC.

We don’t write for a British public, therefore, we always have to think that we write for the Scandinavians, for the people in the Mediterranean basin, and even for Eastern Europe, we don’t precisely know exactly where the people are who listen to us in English. This changes the way we write, the terms we use … It is essential […] to have a clarity of style […] and this applies to the French as well, they think that they write for the French, but, in fact, they write for the Belgium Francophones, the Swiss Francophones and in Canada, … From the start, I was very conscious that it is not watched at all in England, in the UK, but actually [I write] for the Anglophones so to say or the people who have English as a second language, in Greece for example. And the Spanish, they write … for South America, and the Italians they write for their country (…) and maybe for Albania.Template:Ref1

In addition to the diversity of languages, Euronews is reinforcing its position in Europe by utilizing a localized approach throughout the continent. The localization is expressed in the different content of each of the seven language versions of its news. Each language broadcast is produced in an understandable and individualized manner for a particular linguistic group. David Lowen, a former managing director of the channel, explains how the channel is trying to make the most of the diversity of journalists working in its editions. “Another way in which Euronews has made a “pan-European�? approach work in content is that the journalists from the seven different languages prepare seven different scripts. They have in mind those important parallels which are relevant in their own language or in their own countries and cultures. It is not one script and six translations. At Euronews “pan-European�? does not mean one size fits all. It can still tailor to local demand.�?Template:Ref1

This, however, is not the case with other pan-European news broadcasters. For example, the standardized content of CNN is a serious disadvantage for broadcasting in Europe, as is the channel’s American identification. As J. Chalaby points out, “pan-European television broadcasting presents corporate players with the difficulties associated with operating in a multilingual environment. They must commercialize programmes and channels that appeal to publics across cultural and linguistic divisions. […] When CNN International broadcasts in German the channel retains its American identity and distinctive news treatment.�?Template:Ref1 In one of his Annals of Communications, Ken Auletta reaches a similar conclusion. He defines the main disadvantages of CNN in its competition with multinational networks – it is not truly international; it is not local; it has few overseas partners.Template:Ref1

By contrast, Euronews is not identifiable with a particular country. It is a multinational broadcaster. Public broadcasters form 19 different countries participate in the channel – Algeria, Belgium, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Egypt, Finland, France, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Malta, Monaco, Portugal, Romania, Russia, Slovenia, Spain, Switzerland, Tunisia, and negotiations with Germany are currently underway. This aspect of Euronews provides several advantages.

First, Euronews is not subordinate to any national policy or point of view. “In principle, the gatekeepers in Lyon are not subject to national constraints when selecting and allocating an item of news.�?Template:Ref1 Consequently, Euronews can achieve much higher credibility because it represents a more objective alternative to any national station or international broadcaster backed by a single country. In addition, Euronews is not subject to corporate interests since it is a public broadcasting channel. Overall, Euronews claims that its ambition is to disseminate information “avoiding bias or national viewpoint.�? Olivier Baisnee and Dominique Marchetti give an example with the way Euronews covered the war in Kosovo. According to an editor at the channel, Euronews decided not to comply with the “extremely partisan position of national channels following in the view of the “western camp�? about the victimization of the Albanian refugees�? and to remain skeptical to the conflict.Template:Ref1

Furthermore, the variety of countries involved with Euronews helps the channel to achieve a widespread distribution and a good international standing and influence. In 1999, with the addition of Portuguese, the channel began consolidating its position in the Latin American market and in 2002 it began broadcasting to North America. In 2001, Euronews launched as the first 24 hour news channel in Russia and in Russian. In 2004 it was the first to offer a 30 – minute Romanian language bulletin. As part of the Euromed partnership, negotiations are underway to launch an Arabic language broadcast. The previous Arabic service was canceled due to low advertising revenue. The Euronews head of press and public relations claims that “Euronews is still strongly interested to have an Arabic language version and we are discussing this with several partners�?.Template:Ref1 Currently, there are 20 public broadcasters carrying Euronews programs to more than 155 million homes in 102 countries in Europe, the Middle East, Africa, Asia, North and South America via cable, digital satellite and terrestrial channels.

Euronews is also making headway using new communications technologies. It is the first channel to switch to digital broadcast in 1999. Today, it is available on the internet, on PDA with AvantGo (whose subscribers have nearly doubled in the past year), on mobile phones via the new i-mode technology and finally in live streaming 24/7 via 3G mobile phones.Template:Ref1 The channel is also in cooperation with the European Space Agency to receive space flight broadcasts.Template:Ref1 As Marcel Machill notes, digital transmission technology gives an important advantage to Euronews.

Numerous synergy potentials exist for Euronews here: an editorial office comprising a multinational team does not require fivefold time and resources for the production of five [at that time there were only five broadcasting languages at Euronews] (language) versions of a news programme as compared with the production of one programme. Consequently, from the point of view of media economics, Euronews has a key role to play. At a time when the transmission frequency is no longer the scare and therefore expensive good it once was, importance attaches to ‘being able to produce programmes to fill the large number of channels or to sell them from stocks to which rights are held’. Euronews has this capacity five [seven] times over and is therefore in a position to achieve economies of scale in a linguistically heterogeneous Europe.Template:Ref1

Euronews also launched its original website – It features most of the programming broadcast on the channel and presents a variety of news segments, features and interviews in video format in all of the seven Euronews languages.

The new contract between the European Commission and Euronews was signed on February 21, 2005. It appoints the channel for broadcasting information programs about the EU in the 25 member states, as well as in the candidate countries and in third-countries. It also guarantees Euronews a budget of 5 million Euro per year for the next five years. In exchange, 10 per cent or more of the channel’s production must be information, discussion and debates about EU issues.Template:Ref1 The contract foresees the institution of four programs with a “Mission of European Information�? – News Brief, News Perspective, In Depth, and Direct.Template:Ref1 According to the contract, the channel is required to 1) select, check and disseminate information about the EU; 2) support and reflect EU cultural diversity; 3) contain comprehensive, authoritative and impartial coverage of news and current affairs in the EU and throughout the world when having an EU dimension; 4) contain programs which focus on the impact of EU policies, decisions and actions on the lives of EU citizens and reflect the concerns of both regional and national audiences.Template:Ref1 The channel also has access to material and archives of Europe by Satellite – the European Commission’s Audiovisual Service.

European social, political and cultural affairs figure prominently in the channel’s news agenda. In complying with the requirements for EU coverage, Euronews journalists are trying to achieve a more lively presentation of the sometimes slow and routine political process of EU institutions by focusing on the impact and pros and cons of EU policies for citizens. Euronews’ rubrics are devoted to a large range of issues and debates inherent to life on the continent. Most programs have “Europe�? as their main topic: “Europa�? – a review of the latest political developments in Europe; “Europa Review�? – a summary of the most important news of the week; “Press Review�? – an overview of the headlines of press throughout the continent; “Perspectives�? – a compilation of the European point of view through presentation of coverage of the same story from different national broadcasters. Other rubrics are aimed at getting closer to the general public: “EurOpinion�? – an analysis of the EU citizens’ opinion and concerns; and “Europeans�? – a review of the impact of different EU policies on citizens. Some programming deals with a particular institution or topic such as “Parlamento�? – a report on the political debate and its resonance on life in each country; “Le Mag�? – a culture portal on European music, art and fashion; “Agenda�? – a calendar of major cultural events across Europe, and “Cinema�? – a report from Europe’s film-making centers and festivals.Template:Ref1 The channel also launched a magazine program “Terra Viva�? focusing on different European cities’ efforts to meet environmental challenges. “The program will report on all the projects that make Europe a leading force in the area of sustainable development�?, says Philippe Cayla.Template:Ref1

Today, Euronews is one of the most watched television stations in Europe. The channel still faces serious competition in highly developed news markets like the UK and Germany. However, Euronews is standing its ground as the leading international news channel in the rest of Europe’s broadcasting markets. In the EU internet portal, Euronews is described as the “only pan-European channel and the only multilingual TV operator whose aim corresponds to a public service mission.�?Template:Ref1 According to the same profile, Euronews has become the channel of reference on EU-related news.

As the People Meter survey shows, Euronews is watched by 8 million people each day in the EU, which is four times the figure of CNN and eight times the figure of BBC World.Template:Ref1 According to the Ipsos UK survey – Europe 2005, which measures readership, television viewing, website use, consumer and business behavior and attitudes of the top 4% high-earning consumer and decision-makers across 16 European countries, Euronews is third with 37.3 per cent, right after MTV with 37.7 per cent, and Eurosport with the highest monthly reach of 49.8 per cent.Template:Ref1 The most used survey in the pan-European TV industry is the European Media and Marketing Survey (EMS)Template:Ref1, which evaluates the viewing habits of Europe’s 20 percent wealthiest households. According to the latest results of this survey, Euronews is the leading news channel in the top 5 main markets of Europe (Germany, UK, France, Italy and Spain) and has experienced a growth of 76% in the last eight years.Template:Ref1

The problem with representing Europe as a common political, cultural and social realm still persists and is reflected in the definition of Euronews, which is often defined as what it is not – “nor global, nor national.�?Template:Ref1 This position, however, allows the channel to occupy a niche in international broadcasting. In the competition with national news broadcasters Euronews fills a gap by allocating sufficient television time to international news and European Union policies, and by offering a wider diversity of coverage on various European states and issues. Compared to CNN and BBC World, Euronews gains an advantage by a more localized approach to broadcasting and by offering a different focus on international news. Through this difference in perspective, Euronews speaks more to the European citizens and represents an alternative view on international events for people the world over.


1. ^  Unsnoozing the continental news, The Economist, London: Nov 22, 1997, Vol. 345, Iss. 8044
2. ^  Marcel Machill, “Euronews: the first European news channel as a case study for media industry development in Europe and for spectra of transnational journalism research, Media, Culture & Society, 1998, (SAGE Publications, London, Thousand Oaks and New Delhi), Vol. 20: 427 – 450
3. ^  The Adonnino Report, Pietro Adonnino, “A People’s Europe�?, Bulletin of the European Communities, Suppl. 7/85 (Luxembourg: Office of Official Publications), 1985 - ordered by the European Council, the report suggests among different political opportunity structures for engaging citizen participation the creation of a European TV channel
4. ^  Olivier Baisnee and Dominique Marchetti, Euronews, un laboratoire de la production de l’information “europeenne�?, Culture et Conflits, 2000
5. ^  Ibid.
6. ^  Marcel Machill, “Euronews: the first European news channel as a case study for media industry development in Europe and for spectra of transnational journalism research, Media
7. ^  Jean K. Chalaby, Transnational Television in Europe, The Role of Pan-European Channels, European Journal of Communication, 2002 (SAGE Publications, London, Thousand Oaks, CA and New Delhi), Vol. 17 (2) 183-203
8. ^  Television Without Frontiers: Green Paper on the establishment of the common market for broadcasting, especially by satellite and cable, COM(84) 300, May 1984 cited by Olivier Baisnee and Dominique Marchetti, Euronews, un laboratoire de la production de l’information “europeenne�?, Culture et Conflits, 2000
9. ^  Cultural protectionism: Television of Babel, The Economist, London, Feb 5, 1994
10. ^  Olivier Baisnee and Dominique Marchetti, Euronews, un laboratoire de la production de l’information “europeenne�?
11. ^  Schlesinger, Philip, Wishful Thinking: Cultural Politics, Media, and Collective Identities in Europe, Journal of Communication, 1993
12. ^  Siebenhaar, Hans-Peter (1994) Europa als audiovisueller Raum. Ordnungspolitik des grenzueberschreitended Fernsehens. Opladen: Leske+Budrich, cited by Marcel Machill
13. ^  Foreword by Muriciano in Gonzalez, Martin, Euronews. Una television publica para Europa, 1995, cited by Marcel Machill
14. ^  Marcel Machill, “Euronews: the first European news channel as a case study for media industry development in Europe and for spectra of transnational journalism research
15. ^  Olivier Baisnee and Dominique Marchetti, Euronews, un laboratoire de la production de l’information “europeenne�?
16. ^  Ibid.
17. ^  Ibid.
18. ^  Ken Auletta, Raiding the Global Village, CNN’s global dominance faces challenges from new multinational network linkups and from changes in what the world wants to watch, Annals of Communications, The New Yorker – August 2, 1993
19. ^  Olivier Baisnee and Dominique Marchetti, Euronews, un laboratoire de la production de l’information “europeenne�?
20. ^  Marcel Machill, “Euronews: the first European news channel as a case study for media industry development in Europe and for spectra of transnational journalism research
21. ^  Olivier Baisnee and Dominique Marchetti, Euronews, un laboratoire de la production de l’information “europeenne�?
22. David Lowen, Edited exerpts from keynote speech at the Association for International Broadcasting’s Global Media Business Conference, London, 30 April 2003
23. Jean K. Chalaby, Transnational Television in Europe, The Role of Pan-European Channels
24. ^  Ken Auletta, Raiding the Global Village, CNN’s global dominance faces challenges from new multinational network linkups and from changes in what the world wants to watch
25. ^  Marcel Machill, “Euronews: the first European news channel as a case study for media industry development in Europe and for spectra of transnational journalism research
26. ^  Olivier Baisnee and Dominique Marchetti, Euronews, un laboratoire de la production de l’information “europeenne�?
27. ^  Andrew Beatty, EU-funded TV channel would preach to Arab world,
28. ^  Ibid.
29. ^  Sofia News Agency,
30. ^  Marcel Machill, “Euronews: the first European news channel as a case study for media industry development in Europe and for spectra of transnational journalism research
31. ^  Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
32. ^  Euronews, European Community 2005
33. ^  Editorial Charter for European Union Contract,
34. ^  The Complete news service, Euronews, 2005,
35. ^  C21
36. ^  Europa Portal
37. ^  Peoplemeters, Erfolg den man messen kann, Euronews 2005,
38. ^  FT is top read for Europe’s decision-makers, Campaign, Jul 15, 2005
39. ^  Jean K. Chalaby, Transnational Television in Europe, The Role of Pan-European Channels
40. ^  European Media and Marketing Survey (EMS)
41. ^  Olivier Baisnee and Dominique Marchetti, Euronews, un laboratoire de la production de l’information “europeenne�?

About the Author

Iskra Kirova, USC Center on Public Diplomacy Research Associate

PD Wiki, USC Center on Public Diplomacy, January 2006

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