Former chief executive officer of NDTV Ltd and news anchor Vikram Chandra has launched a video news app called Editor ji, part of a start-up called Editor ji Technologies Pvt. Ltd founded by him, that he said will help tackle the spread of fake news.

The multilingual video news platform that has started out by offering news stories in English and Hindi claims that it will provide a completely different way to experience news on the go by using a powerful artificial intelligence (AI) algorithm.

The app, launched on Tuesday, provides personalized newscasts and even allows for viewers to record their opinion on stories. Editor ji Technologies Pvt. Ltd is backed by Bharti Airtel Ltd and HT Media Ltd.

The total investment in the venture is close to 30 crore.

Chandra said: “The platform provides a one-tap access to a personalized newscast that is created by the Editor ji algorithm which considers a variety of parameters including location, news categories, preferred style of news and so on. Users can skip stories that they do not want to see by simply swiping."

Users can also edit the newscast by deleting stories, changing them and adding any stories that they want. They can also record their own opinions and add these to the newscast which can then be shared. “This enables you to create your own news channel," Chandra said.

Chandra, who quit NDTV in 2016, said he wasn’t keen to launch another television news channel as the business model is flawed with heavy dependence on television rating points, poor subscription revenue and significant carriage fee.

He said there’s room for a video news platform as news spread by social media platforms lacks credibility. “This, together with the anonymity of users, permits the rapid dissemination of fake news (via social media platforms). Fake news is becoming one of the biggest problems of the Internet today," he said.

Authentic and good quality news, in fact, often finds it difficult to get adequate distribution, he pointed out. “In the case of Editor ji, its investment from Bharati Airtel will ensure that the app gets wide distribution through Airtel TV, Wynk and mobile subscribers," he said.

According to the Ficci EY report released earlier this year, 250 million people watch videos online in India. This number is expected to double to 500 million by 2020. Around 40% of the total mobile traffic came from the consumption of video services in 2015. This figure is expected to touch 72% by 2020, the report said, adding that digital advertising is growing at the rate of 29%.

Experts in the field welcomed the move.

“Everyone is investing in the digital video space and the biggest advantage with Editor ji would be that it is backed by a credible journalist. There’s latent demand for news on-the-go which needs to be addressed. While over-the-top (OTT) video platforms are creating a niche for themselves with the help of focused content strategy such as Netflix originals, Hotstar through sports and Zee5 through regional content, news is not strongly associated with any of the OTT platforms. Therefore, this is just the right time for a player like Editor ji to dominate this untapped opportunity," said Amaresh Godbole, chief executive, Publicis Groupe-owned digital agency Digitas India.

For now, Editor ji will be a free service and open to advertising. The commercials will be embedded between the stories that are slated to be no longer than 15 seconds each.

Editor ji joins the league of other digital news sites in the country that include BloombergQuint, GoNews, Scroll and ThePrint.

The company will forge partnerships with other media firms and allow them to showcase their news on the Editor ji platform. Chandra has already tied up with Hindustan Times for its news videos to be hosted on Editor ji.

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