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Boring IFTAs have become a massive embarrassment to the Irish TV industry

TWO years ago, Brenda Fricker (below) attended the IFTAs and had the following to say: "I hated it. It was mind-blowingly boring. I was cringing in my seat."

Now, if this were simply an isolated criticism, one could easily dismiss it. Unfortunately, it's an increasingly common complaint about what is supposed to be the biggest night out for the Irish entertainment industry, to hopefully be talked about in the same breath as the Oscars and the BAFTAs.

And try as they might, the organisers seem to attract nothing but bad publicity, with this year's dose having already begun.

There are 160 nominees spread out over a bum-numbing 40 different awards. Nominees are allowed two tickets each (for themselves and a guest), while well-known faces from film and TV are also invited. About a third of all tickets to the evening are then sold at an eye-watering €300 each, a practice which raises about €70,000 for the organisers.

One might not begrudge them this money if they actually spent it on the event, but the change in the quality of the ceremony has been something to behold.

SHODDINESS

Gone are the days of big Hollywood stars being paid to turn up, or money being splashed out on a glamorous venue.

Meanwhile, under the Best Entertainment TV Show category, two shows which are made by UK channels – Mrs Brown's Boys and Moone Boy – are nominated.

Most of all, there was a time when you could forgive the shoddiness and the uninspiring guest list because the IFTAs, when they were held in the Convention Centre, at least had a sense of occasion, a veneer of glamour.

This year, however, the event has been moved to the Doubletree by Hilton Hotel – better known to you and I as the old Burlo – and the professional clothes horse and party-goer Laura Whitmore has been drafted in for hosting duties.

But the fact that the IFTA committee cuts costs in this way while still expecting hard-working, under-paid industry people to stump up €300 to attend, says all you need to know about the event.

In 2014, the IFTAs has become more than "mind-blowingly, numbingly boring". It's become an embarrassment.


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