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KNX says NewsBreak article on simulcast is wrong

The company did not stop simulcasting its news programming on AM radio, contrary to a NewsBreak article that appears to be entirely written by a robot.

The company did not stop simulcasting its news programming on AM radio, contrary to a NewsBreak article that appears to be entirely written by a robot.

The skyline of downtown Los Angeles. (Stock image)
The skyline of downtown Los Angeles. (Stock image)

A Southern California radio station says a robot-written article posted to a major news aggregate service contains a massive error.

Over the weekend, a story on the NewsBreak app claimed Audacy-owned news station KNX (1070 AM, 97.1 FM) had turned off its AM radio simulcast in favor of FM-only broadcast.

The claim was apparently based on a social media posting in which some Southern California radio listeners reported problems receiving KNX’s FM signal within their fringe coverage area. On KNX’s AM radio signal, the station was apparently airing an infomercial at the same time, leading some to speculate that the station had ended its simulcast.

“The news of KNX ceasing its simulcast on 1070 AM has ignited a wave of nostalgia amongst its listeners, especially on social media,” the story claimed. It concluded: “As the landscape of radio continues to evolve, changes like these are inevitable.”

The report was published by an unfamiliar news outlet called “Living in Los Angeles,” which does not actually exist. A disclaimer at the bottom of the article says that some content was written by tools powered by artificial intelligence.

The story caught officials at KNX and Audacy by surprise, because the station had not ended its AM-FM simulcast, as NewsBreak claimed.

“For emphasis and avoidance of doubt, this story is not true, and KNX has asked for it to be removed,” Alex Silverman, the director of news programming at KNX and Audacy Los Angeles, said in a statement. “I also can’t find any of the stuff the AI purportedly paraphrased from ‘social media.'”

Despite Silverman’s pleas, the article remained on the NewsBreak website and app until Monday evening, when it was removed after The Desk reached out to a NewsBreak executive for comment about the situation. The website still has not explained how the article went live in the first place.

NewsBreak has launched similar ghost news outlets with content written entirely by robots in a handful of other major metropolitan areas, including the San Francisco Bay Area, where the company is headquartered. There, AI-powered tools have rewritten news content found on social media and via legitimate news partners, including KGO-TV (Channel 7) and KPIX-TV (Channel 5), according to an analysis of content by The Desk.

NewsBreak doesn’t prohibit its contributors from using artificial intelligence to write or publish articles through its app, but does say the use of those tools must be clearly and conspicuously disclosed. The company says it is up to individual content contributors to ensure the articles written by robots are accurate.

“As a NewsBreak contributor, you are responsible for ensuring the accuracy of any content you submit, including content created with the help of AI,” NewsBreak says in terms that are outlined for its content contributors. “We understand that AI can be a useful tool for creating content, but it is important to remember that it is not error-free.”

Audacy is also a content partner for NewsBreak, with articles from KNX and other radio stations appearing within the app. It wasn’t clear if NewsBreak’s AI-powered tools have franchised any of KNX’s original and accurate reporting over the last few weeks.

It is not the first time AI-powered told have been caught posting misinformation. Earlier this year, the website Futurism called out Red Ventures-owned CNET after discovering several personal financial articles that were surreptitiously written by a robot and which claimed numerous factual inaccuracies.

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About the Author:

Matthew Keys

Matthew Keys is a nationally-recognized, award-winning journalist who has covered the business of media, technology, radio and television for more than 11 years. He is the publisher of The Desk and contributes to Know Techie, Digital Content Next and StreamTV Insider. He previously worked for Thomson Reuters, the Walt Disney Company, McNaughton Newspapers and Tribune Broadcasting.
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