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April 29, 2024

FT becomes first UK newsbrand to announce licensing deal with OpenAI

FT follows in footsteps of Axel Springer, Associated Press and Le Monde.

By Charlotte Tobitt

The Financial Times has become the first major UK-based news publisher to announce a content licensing deal with ChatGPT owner OpenAI.

The FT follows in the footsteps of Politico, Business Insider and Bild owner Axel Springer which signed a deal to provide current content and training data to OpenAI in December. Axel Springer chief executive Mathias Dopfner said in London last week the most important part of their deal “is the content delivery of stories we create and remuneration for that, because that is always based on new and original content”.

Others to have signed deals with OpenAI so far include the Associated Press and the French and Spanish publishers of Le Monde and El País. News Corp has said it is pursuing a deal with AI companies but nothing has yet been signed.

[Read more: Who’s suing AI and who’s signing: Publisher deals vs lawsuits with generative AI companies]

The Financial Times deal was described by the publisher as a “strategic partnership and licensing agreement”.

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It will mean ChatGPT users will be able to see “select attributed summaries, quotes and rich links to FT journalism in response to relevant queries”.

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The deal covers both real-time, current content and archive data for training.

Brad Lightcap, chief operating officer of OpenAI, said: “Our partnership and ongoing dialogue with the FT is about finding creative and productive ways for AI to empower news organisations and journalists, and enrich the ChatGPT experience with real-time, world-class journalism for millions of people around the world.”

FT Group chief executive John Ridding said: “This is an important agreement in a number of respects.

“It recognises the value of our award-winning journalism and will give us early insights into how content is surfaced through AI.

“We have long been a leader in news media innovation, pioneering the subscription model and engagement technologies, and this partnership will help to keep us at the forefront of developments in how people access and use information.”

Ridding continued: “The FT is committed to human journalism, as produced by our unrivalled newsroom, and this agreement will broaden the reach of that work, while deepening our understanding of reader demands and interests.

“Apart from the benefits to the FT, there are broader implications for the industry. It’s right, of course, that AI platforms pay publishers for the use of their material.”

The New York Times is currently suing OpenAI and its partner Microsoft after talks for a deal broke down. The case could hinge on whether the use of publisher content to train ChatGPT can be classed as fair use.

Ridding said: “OpenAI understands the importance of transparency, attribution, and compensation – all essential for us. At the same time, it’s clearly in the interests of users that these products contain reliable sources.”

The FT said it had already become a customer of ChatGPT Enterprise with access for all employees so they could become “well-versed in the technology” and begin to get the “creativity and productivity gains”.

In February last year the FT created an AI editor role, another first for a UK national newsbrand, to both lead its reporting on the subject and to help provide expertise to the wider team of reporters.

How Financial Times is using generative AI

In May last year FT editor Roula Khalaf said her newsroom’s reporting would continue to be written by humans but she had a team who would “experiment responsibly with AI tools to assist journalists in tasks such as mining data, analysing text and images and translation” and FT journalists would be trained on using AI for story discovery in masterclasses.

She added: “We won’t publish photorealistic images generated by AI but we will explore the use of AI-augmented visuals (infographics, diagrams, photos) and when we do we will make that clear to the reader. This will not affect artists’ illustrations for the FT. The team will also consider, always with human oversight, generative AI’s summarising abilities.

“We will be transparent, within the FT and with our readers. All newsroom experimentation will be recorded in an internal register, including, to the extent possible, the use of third-party providers who may be using the tool.”

Ridding added on Monday: “We’re keen to explore the practical outcomes regarding news sources and AI through this partnership.

“We value the opportunity to be inside the development loop as people discover content in new ways. As with any transformative technology, there is potential for significant advancements and major challenges, but what’s never possible is turning back time. It’s important for us to represent quality journalism as these products take shape – with the appropriate safeguards in place to protect the FT’s content and brand.

“We have always embraced new technologies and disruption, and we’ll continue to operate with both curiosity and vigilance as we navigate this next wave of change.”

Email pged@pressgazette.co.uk to point out mistakes, provide story tips or send in a letter for publication on our "Letters Page" blog

Select and enter your email address Weekly insight into the big strategic issues affecting the future of the news industry. Essential reading for media leaders every Thursday. Your morning brew of news about the world of news from Press Gazette and elsewhere in the media. Sent at around 10am UK time. Our weekly does of strategic insight about the future of news media aimed at US readers. A fortnightly update from the front-line of news and advertising. Aimed at marketers and those involved in the advertising industry.
  • Business owner/co-owner
  • CEO
  • COO
  • CFO
  • CTO
  • Chairperson
  • Non-Exec Director
  • Other C-Suite
  • Managing Director
  • President/Partner
  • Senior Executive/SVP or Corporate VP or equivalent
  • Director or equivalent
  • Group or Senior Manager
  • Head of Department/Function
  • Manager
  • Non-manager
  • Retired
  • Other
Visit our privacy Policy for more information about our services, how Progressive Media Investments may use, process and share your personal data, including information on your rights in respect of your personal data and how you can unsubscribe from future marketing communications.
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