Curtis LeGeyt, president and CEO of the National Association of Broadcasters, spoke out on Monday about the potential dangers of artificial intelligence at the NAB Show in Las Vegas. “This is an area where NAB will definitely be active,” he asserted of AI, one of the hottest topics this week at the annual convention. “It’s just amazing how quickly AI’s relevance to our entire economy — but specifically, since we’re in this space, the broadcast industry — has gone from amorphous concept to real.”
LeGeyt warned of several concerns he has for local broadcasters, the first being issues around “big tech” taking over broadcast content and not compensating broadcasters fairly for its use. “We fought for legislation to put some guardrails on it,” LeGeyt said. “AI has the potential to accelerate that. We need to make sure that our stations, our content creators, are fairly compensated.
He added that he is concerned about journalists. “We are already under attack for any mistake we could have regarding misreporting a story. Well, you’re going to have to put in a lot more effort to make sure whatever you’re reporting on is real, fact-based information and not just some AI bot that just happens to look like Joe Biden. Finally, he warned against obfuscation of images and likenesses involving AI.
“I want to wave the warning flag in some of these areas,” he said. “I think this could be really detrimental to local broadcasting.”
During his talk he also outlines where he sees opportunities. “My own view is that there are some real potential hyperlocal benefits to AI,” he said, citing translation services and the ability to accelerate research at “resource-constrained local stations.” He claimed: “Investigative journalism will never be replaced by AI. Our role in local community events, philanthropic work, will never be replaced by AI. But to the extent that we can use AI to do some of the things that are time consuming and take away from you the ability to be boots on the ground and do things that only you can do well, I think that’s a positive.
The session also discussed the voluntary rollout of the next generation of digital television, known as ATSC 3.0, which may include capabilities such as free live broadcasts to mobile devices. A change of this magnitude has many moving parts and has a long way to go before its potential can be realized.
At NAB, FCC President Jessica Rosenworcel was on hand to announce the Future of Television Initiative, which she described as a public-private partnership between stakeholders to support a transition to ATSC 3.0. “With more than 60 percent of Americans already within reach of a Next Gen TV signal, we are excited to work closely with all stakeholders, including the FCC, to bring Next Gen TV and all of its benefits to all viewers said LeGeyt.
During his session, LeGeyt also spoke of “fierce competition for the dashboard” as part of a discussion of connected cars. “It is not enough for a (broadcaster) to innovate. If we don’t all row in the same direction as an industry, we’re going to lose this arms race,” he warned.
Citing competition from the likes of Spotify, he claims the local content offered by broadcasters gives them a “competitive advantage”.
The NAB Show runs through Wednesday.