I agree with narrowing down the awards given for romance to just 'Best Romance' and 'Best Same Sex Romance'. Four just seems like too many to me for just one category.
However, I don't agree with the idea of adding an award for characterisation. Surely that is an area judged for 'Best ___ Story'? And as Rachel says, what about other aspects of a story? If you give out an award for characterisation, why not for other aspects of the stories? If a story has a great plot, but the characterisation isn't that brilliant, should it get an award? I also think it would be hard to judge; people's interpretation of characters vary and what one person may thing is brilliant another could think OOC. Plus, what about minor characters like Padma Patil or Michael Corner? How do you judge characterisation on characters we know so little about?
I think that with regards to beat-readers, if this category was to be continued then the judging style needs to be a bit different. I think that you can't really get a feel for how good a beta is just by looking at their thread and finished stories. What if a beta worked really hard on a story that wasn't written by the most wonderful author and the finished result was of a lower standard than that of another story nominated? If the better story won, but was all ready pretty good to begin with, then surely that's defeating the idea? The other beta reader would have put in a lot more work to get the standard of the fic up so high from when it was first written.
I also agree with the idea of combining the OC categories, as Nikki says, there seems to be a lot more female OCs than male, and I think that combining the 'Best Artist' and 'Best Bannermaker' would be an idea as well.
I hope all that made sense, I'm freezing and my brain isn't engaged well :p