Media Company Debuts AI-Generated Sportscasters and It Stirred Debate

Artificial intelligence (AI) has always been a debatable topic and a local television network’s use of AI-generated sportscasters is no exception.

Did you know that in the United States, 46% of respondents in a survey expressed their concern that artificial intelligence (AI) will replace news reports one day? Here in the Philippines, however, that has already become a reality.

Case in point: broadcast company GMA Network, which has recently launched its first-ever Artificial Intelligence (AI)-generated sportscasters. According to a press release from GMA, the AI-generated sportscasters are a collaboration between GMA Integrated News (GMAIN), GMA New Media Inc. (NMI), and GMA Synergy. 

Since their launch on September 24, these AI-generated sportscasters have generated a fierce debate online about the use of AI, especially when it comes to doing work usually done by humans. While there are those who have lauded GMA’s use of technological advancements in its products, there are those who have expressed concern regarding their use of AI. 

We take a closer look at the online debate regarding GMA’s use of AI-generated sportscasters—as well as whether or not this can be harmful for other businesses to emulate. 

GMA’s AI-Generated Sportscasters

GMA’s AI-generated sportscasters—named Maia and Marco—are meant to deliver news on NCAA Season 99, as well as other local and international sports that feature Filipino athletes. Viewers can watch them deliver news via the social media accounts of GMAIN, GMA Sports, and GMA Synergy. 

“GMAIN’s adoption of AI technology also demonstrates our commitment to innovation in journalism,” Senior Vice President and Head of Integrated News, Regional TV, and Synergy Oliver Victor Amoroso says in a statement. “We embrace emerging technologies to stay at the forefront of the media industry by providing our audience with a modern and engaging sports news experience.”

Below is a clip of Maia and Marco introducing themselves to the public, which was posted to the GMA Integrated News YouTube account:

AI-Generated Sportscasters Stir Debate

The comments section of the YouTube video was filled with thoughts of people who are either for or against the use of AI in news reporting. 

Kabahan na kayo mga human hosts at newscasters. The future is here,” one YouTube comment in favor of the AI sportscasters reads. “Hindi napapagod, walang sick or vacation leave, walang sweldo at available 24/7.” 

[Translation: Be nervous, human hosts and newscasters. The future is here. They don’t get tired, they don’t need sick or vacation leave, they don’t need a salary, and they’re available 24/7.]

“This opens more opportunities for more advanced technologies in our country,” another comment in favor of the use says. “I am proud of this.” 

On the other hand, those who are against the use of AI-generated sportscasters have expressed their concerns about how the final product came out. They also expressed concern for human broadcast journalists and how this can put jobs in peril. 

“Now we won’t get hyped again when watching sports,” one comment reads. “Commentators are one of the reasons sports shows are not bland. They give life to it. When they get hyped or energetic, it also transfers to the audience. If this is an effort to cut costs, then it’s not worth it.”

“Whoever signed off on this project does not deserve the power that he has,” Another comment says. “Broadcasting just died when this AI sportscaster project was approved.” 

GMA Defends Its AI Sportscasters

GMA’s Senior Vice President and Head of Integrated News, Regional TV, and Synergy has since come to the defense of the network’s use of AI-generated sportscasters. According to a report, Amoroso said that they are meant to complement and not replace the human aspect of journalism. 

“They are AI presenters, not journalists; they can’t replace our seasoned broadcasters and colleagues who are the heart of our organization,” Amoroso explains. “While we are for innovation, we also value training and upskilling our employees so they could be empowered in this age of AI.”

Is Using AI Good or Bad for Businesses? 

The use of AI has always been a controversial subject. Particularly, the use of AI to replace people when it comes to performing jobs has been the subject of debate. 

One comment on GMA’s YouTube video perfectly lists what can be the benefits companies get for using AI. “Nice savings for the company, no need to pay for insurance, pensions, and no more complaints for wage increase,” the comment reads. 

Looking at it from that perspective, the use of AI can be more cost-efficient for businesses. Aside from this, the use of AI can also make businesses more competitive, especially in a landscape where more and more companies are embracing technological advancements. 

However, there are disadvantages to using AI as well—particularly the human aspect that is being sacrificed. Many fear losing their jobs because companies prefer using AI instead of having to spend on salary and benefits. 

In addition to this, artificial intelligence is not all-knowing. ChatGPT, for example, is still known for saying the wrong things and giving wrong answers to questions asked by users. 

At the end of the day, it all boils down to the intention of a business to use AI and how it is being used. Technology and people do not have to compete with one another. Instead, technology and people can go hand-in-hand in such a way that technology can improve the skill set, efficiency, and overall work experience of people at work.