27 OCT 2023

James Townley: “There are endless possibilities in how ai and tech can be used”

The Chief Content Officer, Development at Banijay, talks about the company's AI Creative Fund, a new opportunity for producers and labels across 21 territories to showcase ideas using technology and innovation.

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James Townley

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Some weeks ago, Banijay announced the AI Creative Fund, a new opportunity for producers and labels across the company's 21 territories to showcase ideas with technology and innovation at their heart. This new addition to the group's various other creative initiatives aims to fuel and supercharge people and teams to create formats that push the boundaries of creativity using Artificial Intelligence and technology. James Townley, Chief Content Officer, Development at Banijay, discussed this initiative.

When and why did you feel it was necessary to enter the world of AI?
"At Banijay, we are enthusiastic about innovation generally, and it certainly feels like we are in a new era of technology. We have brilliant producers and creatives across the 21-market footprint, all open to experimenting with new ways of working both behind the camera and as part of the show. Accessing our creative know-how and utilizing the tools available allows us to be a pioneering force in cutting-edge entertainment."

Specifically, in which ways can AI help in the production of content?
"There are endless possibilities in how AI and tech can be used in partnership with the talent in our industry, and these are constantly evolving and changing. Already, we have seen it used to creatively support formats in ways that are supplementary to revitalizing an existing show or to assist production behind the scenes with the generation of questions for gameshows, for instance. While we continue to scrutinize its use owing to the ethical and rights considerations at play, one thing we do confidently believe is that human creativity will always prevail. This business is built on creative ideas, and that is never going to change."

Why do so many people believe AI is more of an enemy than an ally?
"It is important to balance things out. Yes, there are apprehensions, but on the whole, we see AI as a new tool for our creatives to use. We absolutely need to be mindful of how AI is used and continually keep abreast of changes and challenges. Firstly, AI systems show a bias towards the white lens, which can allow further inequalities for marginalized groups, which we have long sought to combat as an industry. Unfortunately, it may take time, much data input, and the direction of many uses before this balances out. Privacy and data can be an issue, too: with AI being used to gather huge amounts of data, we need to question how this data is used. For a business like Banijay and our producers, we need to be very aware of rights issues and IP protection."

Are you already implementing AI in other areas of Banijay's business?
"On a practical level, as it is a hot topic in the industry, I would assume most people would be exploring how AI is used. We need to experiment and use this tool to better understand its most effective use for us."

What is the future of AI in the content industry?
"The possibilities are endless, and as AI begins to shape our world, there is an increasing demand for people to create fresh, forward-thinking formats in the technology space. We want to embrace this tech, and our creatives as well, whether that be an idea central to a show or else redefining the production process. Our newly launched AI Creative Fund encourages our talent to explore new ideas, like with all our creative funds available to producers across the Banijay footprint. They are all there to elevate ideas and invest in what our producers do best: innovate and ambitiously create new IP for local audiences with global potential."

By Federico Marzullo

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