December’s Baker’s Dozen

Univision’s news coverage raises eyebrows, Europe confronts AI and more.

The European Union

Open AI

EU regulators are set to approve some of the most sweeping measures introduced by a major political body to reap the benefits of AI while offering protections against its threat to the workforce and vast ability to spread misinformation. The leading producers of AI systems will face greater transparency requirements, and accounts behind images manipulated by the technology will have to mark them as such, among other new rules.

The legislation, called the AI Act, is a step in the right direction, and once again puts Europe at the vanguard of common-sense tech regulation. However, the measures won’t be in place for at least 12 months, when AI abilities are certain to have advanced by leaps and bounds, highlighting the difficulty governments with their many bureaucratic processes have in keeping up with galloping private sector innovation.

In other AI developments, a Times deep dive into the turmoil at Open AI leading up to Sam Altman’s sudden ouster (and, five days later, rehiring) won’t do much to restore confidence in the company, rife as it was, and remains, with internal divisions over the dangers of AI, corrosive mistrust between board members and the unavoidable fact that the Silicon Valley elite, and corporate powerhouses like Microsoft, are really running the show.


The Big Tech company is facing a nearly $600 million lawsuit by Spain’s Asociación de Medios de Información, a company representing over 80 Spanish media outlets, that claims Meta has been violating Europe’s strict data protection laws for several years and illegally mining data for hyper targeted ads. It will be a suit to watch closely, with major implications for social media regulation in Europe and beyond.


The streaming platform announced it would cut 17% of its workforce, which combined with earlier recent layoff rounds means cuts of nearly 25%. Despite having 230 million premium subscribers, Spotify has struggled for years to post consistent profits, and investors are losing patience. Expect the service to cut back on spending for original content, especially in the form of pricey podcasts by A-listers like Barack and Michelle Obama and Prince Harry and Meghan Markle.



America’s biggest Spanish-language TV network is facing fierce criticism from left-wing viewers and commentators for what they perceive as the broadcaster’s rightward drift following its $4.8 billion merger with Mexico’s Televisa last year. A recent softball interview with Donald Trump didn’t help matters, and fears of cozying up to Mexican politicians, who’ve historically had close ties with Televisa, are providing more grist for the mill. However, a bigger complication for Univision and its editorial mission may be the struggle to cut ratings losses with a demographic that for years now has been shifting its allegiances to the Republican party.

In bewildering election cycle news, CNN said it would host a Republican debate next month at Saint Anselm College in New Hampshire, which came as a surprise to Saint Anselm College administrators. The cable network refused to explain the gaffe, and promised that it would in fact host a Republican somewhere in the state of New Hampshire in late January. This is not the sort of look CNN wants to present as it recovers form a recent whirlwind of scandal and disarray.

National Amusements


Skydance, the production company founded in 2010 by David Ellison, is emerging as a leading contender to take over Rupert Murdoch’s National Amusements, which has a controlling stake in Paramount. Talks are in the early stages, with the outcome uncertain, but news of the discussions helped send the Hollywood studio’s shares up almost 40% month-over-month.



Zombie cable

The platforms are the latest streaming rivals to ponder a bundling option that would give viewers a discounted two-for-one monthly subscription price. Netflix and Max announced a similar move last month for Verizon customers. Such packages will certainly proliferate as studios and networks grow more aggressive about earning profits in the too-crowded streaming arena—and individual price increases continue to alienate subscribers.

Even an unlikely mass exodus from the streamers would be unlikely to reverse the sad fate of cable networks. The number of scripted original series on basic and premium cable channels tumbled 39% between 2015 and 2022, months before the writers and actors strikes accelerated the fall. Last week, the USA network devote 46 hours of one 48-hour programing block to “Law & Order: SVU” reruns. And, unfortunately, that network is not an outlier.


Samir Shah will serve as the next chair of the BBC. The appointment by ministers of the 40-year television veteran should provide a bit of relief at the broadcaster, especially given the lengthy vetting process behind the naming that will spare it the cries of politicization that greeted the selection of former chair Richard Sharp. Still, Shah will be playing a crucial role at a BBC in turmoil as a cascade of budget cuts continues amid a cap on licensing fees, with the network’s venerated news programming being particularly hard hit.


An increasingly erratic Elon Musk is alienating a herd of major league advertisers—he profanely blasted Disney’s Bob Iger this week for ditching X after Musk retweeted anti-Semitic content. Now, the social media platform, already hemorrhaging money, is desperate to stanch the bleeding…and thinks appealing to small business advertisers is the way to do it. Doubtful, considering the damage already done and no indication that Musk will pull himself together anytime soon.