From the Guardian
The Advertising Standards Authority is to formally investigate Channel 4's controversial "Bigger. Fatter. Gypsier" advertising for Big Fat Gypsy Weddings, after the Traveller community successfully appealed the regulator's original decision.
In March the ASA dismissed more than 370 complaints against the campaign, which featured the words "Bigger. Fatter. Gypsier" printed over images of Gypsy boys and girls, deciding that an investigation was not warranted as Channel 4's TV and billboard ads were not likely to cause widespread offence.
However, the ASA said on Monday its original decision to clear the campaign was "flawed" and admitted it never knew that one of the complainants was the Irish Traveller Movement of Britain, a "material fact to which they should have had regard".
Legal representatives of the Irish Traveller Movement in Britain, and several co-complainants, appealed to the ASA's independent reviewer, Sir Hayden Phillips, to reassess the decision and consider an investigation.
Phillips, who cannot force the ASA to conduct a formal investigation, told the regulator's council he believed that the ad campaign should be subject to a full investigation.
The ASA council, which met on Friday, has now asked the regulator to open an investigation to see if Channel 4's ad campaign is in breach of advertising regulations relating to widespread offence.
The ASA will investigate the ITMB complaint, and the issues raised by co-complaints submitted for review by the traveller body's solicitors, but not the 371 other complaints the advertising also watchdog received.
However, it is understood that all of the complaints received by the ASA were of the same nature.
"Following a recommendation from the independent reviewer of ASA adjudications, the ASA council has decided that its original decision not to conduct a formal investigation into complaints about the Channel 4 Broadcasting Ltd's advertising campaign for the TV programme Big Fat Gypsy Wedding was flawed," said a spokeswoman for the ASA. " It has decided that a formal investigation should now commence."
"This is a great victory for Travellers and Gypsies, and it may prove a turning point as to how Travellers and Gypsies are portrayed in the media," said Yvonne MacNamara, director of the ITMB.
"Channel 4 has made a fortune out of their documentaries, which many Travellers and Gypsies believe have invaded and misrepresented their lives. We hope that today's decision may herald an end to the negative caricaturing of Travellers and Gypsies in the wider media."
The ITMB complaint and appeal process was handled by the legal firm Howe & Co Solicitors.
"The ASA has clearly been forced to look at this matter again and realised how serious it is," said David Enright, a partner at Howe & Co. "We hope that their investigation will now result in new guidance on adverts about Travellers and Gypsies."