The Traveller Times Online magazine have reported that the High Court have ruled in favour of British broadcaster Channel 4, stating there was “no clear evidence of harm attributable directly to the broadcasts” of the controversial TV show My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding. This comes following a 13 month investigation by television watchdog Ofcom.
Subsequently, the UK based organisation The Traveller Movement will be seeking to appeal the decision, with Yvonne MacNamara (Director the Traveller Movement) claiming that: “Paragraphs 25 – 30 of the judgment highlight the deeply damaging nature of the complaints made by the Traveller Movement, including complaints that Channel 4’s broadcasts harmed children and increased racial bullying in schools.”
Ms. MacNamara went onto state that: “We will continue to fight for the right of Gypsies and Travellers to be represented in the media in a fair and balanced way. We will continue to oppose Ofcom’s unfair and biased complaints process, and we call on Channel 4 to stop making programmes that harm Traveller and Gypsy children and to become, instead, the champions of the most marginalised communities in the UK.”
This news comes following reports of protests from the Traveller Gypsy community in the UK against Government plans to re-define the term “Traveller” to only include mobile families for planning purposes. The term’s current usage is inclusive of mobile and settled caravan-dwelling Irish, Romani and New families and individuals as well as house-dwelling families who self-identify as “ethnic Travellers” i.e. Irish, Roma and/or Romani. Alongside the obvious offense it has caused that the largely non-Traveller government wish to dictate who or what a Traveller “really” is in spite of self-definition, the Traveller Gypsy community also fear that these new policy plans will make obtaining permission to build permanent caravan sites even more difficult as it already is.
As pointed out by MacNamara (and also by researcher Mihai Surdu), the barriers currently preventing the Traveller Gypsy community from challenging how they are portrayed and defined in the media is illustrative of a much more crucial battle with regards to their civil and human rights.