BBC Journalists to Use AI for Writing Headlines

bbc office

BBC journalists will use artificial intelligence (AI) to write headlines as part of wider trials of the new technology at the corporation. The public service broadcaster said it was exploring generative AI tools aimed at helping reporters work more quickly. These include a “headline helper” which would give staff a range of potential options to choose from.

The software could also allow journalists to summarize articles to link to elsewhere. It outlined the moves in an AI strategy update, as the broadcaster experiments with how to deploy the nascent technology. Other potential uses include translation tools that would convert news articles into multiple languages, and text-to-speech technology that would convert sports commentary into text for use in live blogs.

Bosses said the BBC is also testing chatbots to provide tailored and interactive educational tools on its Bitesize service. The corporation said the vast majority of its AI pilots were for internal use only, adding that the technology would not be used to create content for audiences until more was known about it.

Aside from potential uses for the technology, the BBC is also grappling with the growing threat from AI. The corporation has blocked companies such as ChatGPT maker OpenAI from trawling its website to train their software amid concerns about widespread copyright breaches.

The New York Times has sued OpenAI and Microsoft over claims of copyright abuses
The New York Times has sued OpenAI and Microsoft over claims of copyright abuses – SHANNON STAPLETON/REUTERS

That mirrored similar moves by publishers including The Guardian, New York Times and CNN. The New York Times has sued OpenAI and Microsoft over claims of copyright abuses, while the Daily Mail has said it is considering similar action.

Rhodri Talfan Davies, the BBC’s director of nations and head of its AI push, warned in 2023 that so-called scraping of BBC websites to train chatbots was not in the interests of licence fee payers. Other news publishers are engaged in discussions with tech companies over potential licensing deals that would see AI makers pay for use of their content.

However, the Daily Mail last week branded OpenAI’s licensing terms “inadequate” and said Google had merely offered free use of its products in lieu of payment. The BBC has set out guiding principles to ensure it uses AI responsibly and to support its public mission, and has now updated its editorial guidance on the use of AI.

It said the rules had been designed to ensure the BBC did not undermine the trust of its audience and to ensure that all uses of AI have active human oversight. Broaden your horizons with award-winning British journalism. Try The Telegraph free for 3 months with unlimited access to our award-winning website, exclusive app, money-saving offers and more.

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