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Sri Lanka’s SLRC introduces AI news anchors for the first time

In a first for the public broadcaster, the Sri Lanka Rupavahini Corporation (SLRC) has debuted two artificial intelligence (AI) newscasters on its main news broadcast.

This historic broadcast featured the AI versions of Chaminda Gunarathne and Nishadi Bandaranayake, two of SLRC’s most popular news anchors, who presented a feature story on Sunday night’s newscast entirely in Sinhala. 

This event marks the first time in the country where a news segment was conducted using AI technology in the Sinhala language.

News Producer Gamini Bandara Manikdiwela highlighted the significance of incorporating the Sinhalese language in AI, noting that Sri Lanka is not typically recognised for using such technology. He emphasised the challenge, as any errors in the Sinhalese broadcast would be promptly noticeable to the audience.

According to Manikdiwela, the SLRC had previously used an AI application for a program which was the first program using AI technology for video, image and audio generation in Sri Lanka. “We used AI to present the Avurudu Nakath. Since it is something deeply rooted in our culture, a simple mistake would have been a major blunder. However, we were successful in our endeavour,” he said.