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Viewers vent fury over RTE's miserable New Year's party

RTE is under fire from angry licence-fee payers after once again taking the fizz out of New Year's Eve.

Another substandard night of programming, without a single event to mark the arrival of 2011, has left the public angry to the point of resentment.

A pre-recorded All Ireland Talent Show is how RTE1 marked the midnight hour, at a time when the national broadcaster is looking for a massive €350m revamp of its studios.

Unsurprisingly, the State broadcaster was unapologetic this evening about its decision to ignore New Year's Eve, for the second year running.

Irish viewers had to go to BBC1 to watch the new year being marked with a spectacular fireworks display from London, or to BBC2 for Jool's Holland's Annual Hootenanny.

The poor quality of programming, a gaffe-strewn Millionaire's Raffle Draw and a pre-recorded All Ireland Talent Show, has seen a number of Facebook and internet campaigns set up to voice concerns.

On a night best forgotten for RTE1, Derek Mooney was forced to make an apology to cancer-sufferer Mairead Lynch, after asking her if she was wearing a turban because she was having a "bad hair day".

RTE 1's horror night included a string of pre-recorded programmes, while RTE 2 showed two movies.

Yet it was the station's failure to broadcast a separate 'countdown' programme that really raised the hackles of Irish viewers, who objected in their droves to it being marked during the All Ireland Talent Show.

The live broadcast hosted by Grainne Seoige saw one of the five acts going through to the semi-finals with last year's finalists performing together in a "spectacular ensemble", which culminated in Phil Coulter ringing in the New Year.

An internet campaign has now been launched on Facebook to oppose its annual December 31 schedule, with countless viewers complaining on influential website boards.ie.

"The countdown during the All Ireland 'talent' show was so bad, I had to switch over to RTE2 to watch Dumb And Dumber instead. There are some toes that will never be uncurled after that appalling cringe-worthy show," said one viewer.

Another stated: "Why can't RTE do a proper countdown and, along with lottery money, have an outside broadcast at, say, Christchurch, with a decent fireworks display and a few bands, etc? It gets worse every year, a lot of people stayed at home tonight only to watch that c**p on RTE."

When contacted about the complaints about New Year's Eve, a spokesperson for RTE told the Herald that they stood by their decision to broadcast the countdown as part of the All Ireland Talent Show programme.

"This is the second year that we've done the New Year's Eve programme as part of the All Ireland Talent Show. We did it last year and it got a very positive reaction to it, people seemed delighted with it so we decided to repeat it this year," she said.