You may have seen me wondering about the Northern Ireland Choice Awards.
At first I was thrilled to have been nominated, what with the promise of a ‘star-studded gala event’ to mark the actual awards ceremony itself. An awards ceremony, I might add, that will be “recorded in front of 1000 VIP guests, and thousands of lucky ticket holders, witnessing an event hosted by two A-list presenters and performances from many of the world’s top artists.”
But as time went on, I started to wonder whether it was actually a genuine thing. The preliminary voting has been going on for a long time (since May, I think?), and there was very little communication from ‘them’. Then the list of ‘finalists’ that was released was identical to the list of ‘nominees’ that was released a few months ago.
I was nominated for ‘Best NI Tweeter’, an entirely online-based activity. So why would I need banners and ‘promotional material’? Also, does a ‘Best Tweeter’ or ‘Best Facebooker’ really need a ”special ‘Your Page’ feature where All Official Finalists are given their very own custom page within The NI Choice Awards website. This comes with a unique url (Example:www.nichoiceawards.com/yourname). This page is what we call a mini-site , it will carry everything about you, from photos, videos, logos + information on your products, services and facilities”?
Isn’t that just the creation of another social networking website?
(The above quotes in bold are all taken from the NIC Awards latest press release, available for download here.)
I’m not being at all self-serving here. I didn’t think I’d stand a chance of even winning, considering some of the people I have been nominated against. But there are several people who would actually stand to gain quite a bit from something of this nature. I’ve seen businesses, nurseries, youth groups, all sorts of people, saying how this would be a good thing for them and their organisation.
Are these decent people being taken for a ride? I really hope they’re not. Not only have people voted by text (therefore costing them money), but many businesses and other organisations have aligned themselves with the NIC Awards, by asking for votes, giving publicity to the NIC Awards, etc. Free publicity and awareness for an organisation which (and correct me if I’m wrong, but this is just my opinion), just seems to buy up domains with ‘NI’ in them. (Since 2001, apparently.)
I’m still waiting to hear back from Mr Carville, but I’m not holding my breath.
UPDATE: Since the last post, I have been in touch with Antony Carville, which only served to muddy the waters even further.
When I basically asked about the ‘VIP event’, he told me that the venue had been provisionally booked for May 18th. I took it upon myself to telephone the venue to make enquiries about the supposed ‘event’. The venue were able to tell me that they had never heard of it, and had nothing pencilled in for that date-or as the girl on the phone told me, “no awards ceremonies, anyway”.
When I put this to Mr Carville, he began to tell me that the venue would not release any info to the public, as it was ‘confidential’.
Other info given to me by Mr Carville includes:
- There have been 39,000 votes received, from over 10,000 voters
- The NIC Awards are now communicating by “using press now” (no details have appeared in the press to date)
- When I asked why the NIC Awards were threatening people on Facebook that the NIC Awards would have the people ‘removed from Facebook’, he said “NICA removed people who took it2 far & were stating slanderous and misleading statements”
- When I said I was only asking questions, which he was consistently failing to answer, he said my tweets “all seem2 talk as if your opinions are true”, which is something I never claimed.
Mr Carville then sent me a series of tweets, which I’m going to combine into one ‘statement’, for ease of reading. (Although all spelling mistakes and ‘txtspeak’ are reproduced exactly as received by me. All comments in bold are mine):
"It seems the issues all fall into the following:- 1.Tickets 2. Voting packs 3. Event concert (which will involve money?) Let me address the previous 3 issues I stated 10 mins back regarding money and scam. You can decide if you post on ur wall. [I had already told Mr Carville I don’t have a Facebook account.] POINT 1: No money will ever be taken from the public until such time as the ate and location are confirmed in press. POINT 2: We are merely trying to run an awards online which helps promote everything NI. POINT 3. Voting Packs r not4 every1. Pubs. groups, etc asked us, we replied. Only section ‘Peoples awards’ may benefit. Free options wr given. All other sections including yours wouldn’t require them & wr nevr told2 use them. POINT 4: Tickets for finalists are free. Tickets would not go onsale 2others until dates + venue announced. No scamming. You are claiming we don’t have terms & conditions which is incorrect & misleading to the public. [At this stage I asked him to let me see the terms & conditions, which he failed to do, completely ignoring my request.] POINT 5: If we took away voting packs, tickets + venue then this would be like the wonderful online NI Social Awards. [This just confused me.] Which means thr is no reason2 claim its a scam as wht r we scamming? Just running an online awards 4 ni. I accept sum have taken up the packs, tickets other charging services wrongly which has lead2 ths issues but as I’ve said, at no time is money requested from any1 until NICA announce the date& location of concert. We r not scamming. The event will be confirmed via media long b4 tickets go on sale. If the event is confirmed then no tickets r sold. [What?] terms&cond 4 tickets, packs r given b4 tickets go onsale. We r not providing services at present which involve money trans [What about money spent on voting via text?] We’ve confirmed with O Arena 18 May12 (penciled in with them ofwhich they will confirm) [All they were able to confirm when I rang them was that they had never heard of the NIC Awards, and nothing was pencilled in] but r also looking at shane’s castle. We’ve been in contact with a performers managers which press can confirm for 18thmay12. We will not release details yet. [And here comes the kicker…] Trust is important2 me Dave, if we dont have it then we will have 2look in2 wlkng b4 we run. Allowing ppl2 get 2 no NI 2day 1st [By this I think he is referring to this website, which seems to have done nothing since 2001 except squat on domain names with ‘NI’ in them].”
There is more of this sort of stuff, but reproducing all this txtspeak verbatim is frying my brain.
In the end he said “Hi, we’re issuing a full UK press release shortly n I will have a full statement this week covering everything”. Hopefully he’ll find time to write it in between tweeting Miley Cyrus.
So the saga continues.
2nd UPDATE: This morning I received the following tweet from Mr Carville: “listen that’s ur opinion. But iv had ur posts read by 2legal parties & they r far from it. They said Misleading & slanderous.”
3rd UPDATE: I’ve now been blocked on Twitter by both Antony Carville AND the NI Choice Awards. This might get awkward when I attend the Super Duper Star-Studded Big Gala Event (or whatever) in May (or whenever) as a finalist.
4th UPDATE: After doing a check for NI Today, which seems to be the ‘mothership’ of all these “NI etc etc” websites, and I found this: http://companycheck.co.uk/company/06853870
5th UPDATE: I also found this after a quick Google search.
It seems that on the 2nd December 2010 a guy named Simon Todd purchased a web domain, ‘nitoday.info’. Three months later, ‘NI Today’ got in touch to tell him that as they owned all trademarks to the name, they would be launching legal action against him for damages if he attempted to launch a live website at that address. The last sentence seems the most intimidating though- “We have set a 24/7 scan on this domain and will continue to monitor it over the length of your registered period.”
In a second message to Mr Todd, they ask him to transfer the domain name to them, and they will then refund him the cost he paid for it.
And in this third message, they seem to have not got the result they were after, and draw Mr Todd’s attention to the fact that they have “successfully defended our brand of NIToday® against Cool FM, UTV, and The BBC”.
It is a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma.