Dublin, 26th July, 2023: New research has identified a significant gap in existing European policy initiatives that fail to fully consider the broader impact of artificial intelligence (AI) technologies on the media and communication (MC) sector. The research, conducted by leading scholars across Europe, sheds light on the impact of AI technologies on the MC sector from the perspective of critical media and communication studies and underlines the importance of multi-stakeholder and domain specific analysis in relation to AI governance.

Titled "Addressing the Gap: AI Governance in the Media and Communication Sector”, the paper critically examines the dominant trustworthy and risk-based approach to AI being pursued by the European Union. The study highlights blind spots in current AI policies, including the neglect of infrastructural and structural asymmetries in the MC sector, the disregard for the cultural, social, and democratic importance of diverse (digital) media, and the failure to acknowledge how AI can undermine social cohesion and collective rights.

Since 2018, various European policy efforts have focused on incorporating ethics principles and European fundamental rights into AI governance. However, these initiatives primarily address the impact of AI on automated content moderation and disinformation distribution across social networks, overlooking the broader implications for the MC sector and societies more generally. The authors provide a comprehensive assessment of key non-regulatory policy documents, specifically those relevant to the establishment of the "Proposal for a regulation on a European approach for AI" (AI Act) in April 2021.

The paper proposes a novel multi-level framework to analyse the policy challenges in governing AI in the MC sector, taking into account sectoral specificities and socio-technical consequences. By identifying four dominant uses of AI in the MC sector namely automating data capture and processing; content generation; content mediation; and communication—the research uncovers overarching opportunities and risks associated with AI implementation in the MC domain.

The paper concludes with three recommendations for governing AI in the MC sector. It highlights the importance of addressing data power asymmetry, incorporating empowerment by design to mitigate risks, and fostering cooperative responsibility through stakeholder engagement.

Presenting the paper recently at the International Association for Media and Communication Research annual conference at Lyon, France, Professor Aphra Kerr, Principal Investigator at the ADAPT SFI Research Centre at Maynooth University, said: "This research highlights the critical need for a comprehensive approach to AI governance in the media and communication sector. Media experts from academia and industry have been largely absent from key European AI policy initiatives since 2018 and thus the impacts of AI in the sector is poorly represented and understood. We urge policymakers, industry leaders, and stakeholders to consider the unique challenges posed by AI in this sector and take proactive measures to ensure AI development and adoption align with trustworthy AI requirements and European democratic values and principles.”

The findings of this study contribute to the ongoing discourse surrounding AI governance and broader European policy discussions related to digital markets and services. The research paper is available online.