Media Law Prof Blog

Editor: Christine A. Corcos
Louisiana State Univ.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Traveler Movement Plans To Challenge Ofcom "Big Fat Gypsy Wedding" Ruling

The Guardian reports that the Traveler Movement, a group that represents the interests of the Irish Travelers in the UK, is asking for judicial review of Ofcom's dismissal of complaints concerning a Channel 4 broadcast of the show Big Fat Gypsy Wedding. The Ofcom investigation lasted about a year. The agency's ruling, issued in 2012, found that the network was not in breach of the code. The agency's ruling said in summary:

After careful consideration Ofcom was satisfied that the programmes did not breach the Code because in summary:

 The steps taken by Channel 4 were sufficient to ensure that due care was taken of the emotional welfare of under-eighteens featured in the programmes, including the young women contributors featured involved in ‘grabbing’


 The programmes did not contain material that could be reasonably considered harmful or likely to cause harm in terms of presenting negative, racist or damaging stereotypes or endorsing prejudice against ITG&R communities.

 While Ofcom recognised that some of the portrayals of ITG&R contributors (e.g. showing them engaged in behaviour that some viewers might regard as inappropriate) had the potential to cause some offence, we considered that there was sufficient context to justify any potential offence which might have been caused by this material.

 The portrayals of ITG&R communities in the programmes were not materially misleading.


David Enright, who represents the Traveler Movement in the lawsuit, released a statement:

“This is a case of significant public importance. Ofcom’s handling of the Traveller Movement’s complaints has exposed deeply worrying flaws in Ofcom’s procedures. Simply put, powerful broadcasters are treated more favourably by Ofcom than ordinary people who look to Ofcom to protect them and their children from harmful and offensive broadcasts.”

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