BSA Decisions Ngā Whakatau a te Mana Whanonga Kaipāho

All BSA's decisions on complaints 1990-present

East and Television New Zealand Ltd - 2021-059 (24 August 2021)

  • Susie Staley MNZM (Chair)
  • Leigh Pearson
  • Paula Rose QSO
  • Warren East


[This summary does not form part of the decision.]

The Authority has not upheld a complaint about a ‘Carpool Kōrero’ segment in an episode of Popstars during which a celebrity guest talked to each of the contestants while apparently driving a car. The complainant alleged a young person may have been unable to discern the guest was not in fact driving, and therefore the broadcast breached the law and order standard. The Authority found reasonably attentive viewers would have likely understood the segment took place in a simulated environment and in any case the broadcast was unlikely to encourage audiences to break the law.

Not Upheld: Law and Order

The broadcast

[1]  An episode of Popstars included a segment called ‘Carpool Kōrero’, during which a celebrity guest talked to each of the contestants while apparently driving a car.

The complaint

[2]  Warren East complained the broadcast breached the law and order standard:

  • ‘It was difficult to [assess] whether it was ‘Hollywood’ driving or if it was real. I’ve been driving since 1964 and I figured it was Hollywood.’
  • ‘Regardless, a younger person may not have discerned it was fake and the [programme] stressed the bonus of ‘the ride’ in the vehicle while the celebrity was driving it.’
  • ‘The driver constantly looked at the contestant in the front passenger seat (for 2-4 seconds) and when the back seats were occupied by two other contestants her attention was towards them via the [rear view] mirror from time to time.’
  • ‘The [programme] demonstrated a total disregard for a driver’s responsibility (under the road code) to use a vehicle in a safe manner, ie driving with due care and attention. This [programme] is clearly targeted at younger people, many of whom would be at the “driver’s licence” stage.’

The broadcaster’s response

[3]  TVNZ did not uphold Mr East’s complaint:

  • ‘While we understand [the concern] in relation to drivers taking their eyes off the road, drivers have a responsibility to ensure they observe safe driving practices irrespective of what they see on television programmes.’
  • ‘We do not agree that the programme encouraged or condoned unsafe driving practices, and it certainly did not promote criminal or serious antisocial activity.’
  • The car was not actually being driven but was being towed on a ‘low loader’ trailer. Accordingly, ‘filming the “Carpool Kōrero” posed no undue risk to [the guest], her passengers, or other road users.’

The standard

[4]  The law and order standard1 requires broadcasters to observe standards consistent with the maintenance of law and order, taking into account the context of the programme and the wider context of the broadcast. Its purpose is to prevent broadcasts that encourage audiences to break the law.2

Our findings

[5]  We have watched the broadcast and read the correspondence listed in the Appendix.

[6]  We have also considered the right to freedom of expression, which is our starting point. This includes the broadcaster’s right to offer a range of ideas, information and content, and the audience’s right to receive those. Our task is to weigh the value of, and public interest in, the broadcast against the level of actual or potential harm that may have been caused, with reference to the objectives of the law and order standard, described above.

[7]  We may only intervene and uphold a complaint where the level of harm justifies placing a reasonable limit on the right to freedom of expression. For the reasons below, we have not found harm at such a level in this case.

Law and Order

[8]  The standard is concerned with broadcasts that actively undermine, or promote disrespect for, the law or legal processes.3

[9]  Context is crucial in assessing a programme’s likely practical effect and, in this case, relevant contextual factors include:

  • Popstars is a reality television programme about a talent competition, adjudicated by a panel of musicians, for a chance to win $100,000.
  • The focus of the programme is the competition and the performance of the contestants, with dialogues about the pressures of such performance and factors for success.
  • Viewers would likely not have taken the segment to be advocating a particular approach to driving.
  • During the segment, the vehicle can be seen rocking independently of the camera, and a reasonably attentive viewer would have likely understood the segment took place in a simulated environment.

[10]  In light of these contextual factors, we find the broadcast was unlikely to encourage audiences to break the law. Even if viewers did not appreciate they were watching simulated driving, the mere depiction of a public figure apparently not complying with driving requirements does not reach the threshold of promoting, glamorising or condoning illegal activity.4

For the above reasons the Authority does not uphold the complaint.
Signed for and on behalf of the Authority


Susie Staley
Acting Chair
24 August 2021    




The correspondence listed below was received and considered by the Authority when it determined this complaint:

1  Warren East’s formal complaint – 11 May 2021

2  TVNZ’s response to Mr East’s complaint – 4 June 2021

3  Mr East’s referral to the Authority – 4 June 2021

4  TVNZ’s confirmation of no further comment – 10 June 2021

1 Standard 5 of the Free-to-Air Television Code of Broadcasting Practice
2 Commentary: Law and Order, Broadcasting Standards in New Zealand Codebook, page 15
3 As above
4 See Boreham and Television New Zealand, Decision No. 2008-118 at [15]