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UK networks told to get real on deepfakes

UK networks are being told to get real on deepfakes.

In a note sent to broadcasters on April 3, media regulator Ofcom advised them to “consider carefully” whether they need to update their compliance procedures to account for the risks involved with deepfake content.

Ofcom listed a number of challenges that deepfakes pose to broadcasters, flagging “misinformation and disinformation,” “trust and credibility degradation” and “fairness and privacy,” the latter focusing on how audiences could mistake deepfake footage of real people “in a way that could result in unfairness to them or potentially unwarrantably infringe their privacy.”

While acknowledging “there are clear benefits to broadcasters” from the use of deepfake technology such as the potential to increase audience engagement, the regulator warned networks to be vigilant in the growing area of “Synthetic Media,” which encompasses deepfakes.

UK broadcasters have been tinkering around the edges with deepfake technology.

ITVX launched Deep Fake Neighbour Wars earlier this year, which uses deepfakes of the likes of Kim Kardashian, Idris Elba and Greta Thunberg to create comedy impression sketches, while BBC Two documentary I’m an Alcoholic: Inside Recovery employed superimposed deepfakes over the top of its contributors to protect their anonymity. In scripted, deepfakes are a crucial element of hit BBC One drama The Capture‘s storyline.

Ofcom said it is “confident” that the existing rules within its Broadcasting Code will protect audiences from potential harms but asked broadcasters to examine the area more closely. The streamers will likely soon fall within these rules. A landmark draft Media Bill published last week that could come into law later this year will see the likes of Netflix and Prime Video having to abide by the regulator’s code on harmful material and subtitling for the first time. Deadline


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