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Update To New York Law Governing AI’s Use In Political Ads Welcomed By Broadcasters.

With the stroke of a pen, New York Governor Kathy Hochul has signed into law several updates to a new law regarding the use of artificial intelligence in political advertising. The New York State Broadcasters Association says the changes to the law amount to “a win” for broadcasters. “It reduces the risk that stations will be dragged into litigation that involves disputes between candidates,” says NYSBA.

Hochul’s signature was on a bill passed by the New York Legislature last month that revised several parts of a bill it passed in April that will hold media outlets, including radio stations, responsible for airing political advertisements that include voices and images created with artificial intelligence. The new legislation will apply retroactively, so any pending litigation brought before Hochul signed the revision into law will be dismissed.

NYSBA says the new law makes it clear that federal law controls with respect to editing or adding labels to political campaign ads. Under federal law and Federal Communications Commission rules, broadcasters are prohibited from censoring any ads from candidates or their authorized committees. The New York update now makes it clear that the federal guidelines have priority. That means rather than a requirement that stations put labels on political ads that contain AI-generated voices and images, the new law requires a station to implement a policy regarding political AI.

Under the updated law (AB A10402A), NYSBA says stations must adopt a policy requiring political advertisers to include a disclosure label if the ad contains manipulated, deceptive audio, image, or video of a candidate. The law says a copy of the policy would be given to an entity purchasing a political ad. But there is no obligation on stations to investigate what is real and what is faked. And if the ad buyer reveals there are AI-generated voices or images, the law does not require stations to take any action.

The new law also will hold stations responsible only if they have actual knowledge that a campaign ad or video used in newscasts contains deceptive material.

“Stations will be required to adopt a policy stating that they will not broadcast content that contains deceptive digital material or AI. However, stations are not required to become policemen and investigate every political advertisement,” says NYSBA in an update to members.

As Inside Radio reported earlier, broadcast attorneys think even if there are disputes, it is unlikely that stations will face much more than a court order to add disclosures since the amended law does not authorize a judge to bar further distribution of the ad — or to award monetary damages. But the court can award reasonable court costs and attorneys’ fees.

But attorney Jack Goodman recommends stations should adopt a disclosure requirement for non-candidate political ads and decide how it will be disseminated to political advertisers, agencies and agents. He says a disclosure might read, “This station requires all political advertisements other than candidate-sponsored ads in which the candidate’s voice or picture appears which include materially deceptive images, audio or video created by artificial intelligence or other technological means to include a written or spoken disclosure that the image, audio or video has been manipulated.” NYSBA is also said to be working on a model disclosure policy for broadcasters to follow.

Goodman also says stations with media liability insurance should check with their carrier to determine whether their policy would cover lawsuits under the new law.

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