A radio interview, posing as sound public health information, aired on US Airways flights during September and October as part of Sky Radio's "Health Report." The segment was an interview with Libby Gray, director of the abstinence-only-until-marriage organization Project Reality.
Project Reality disingenuously promoted Gray's appearance on "Health Report" as though the organization and its message had been exclusively selected by US Airways to provide a public service announcement to passengers. Their September 22 press release announcing the segment was entitled, "US Airways Flights to Feature Project Reality as Part of In-Flight Audio Program This Fall: Sky Radio Conducts In-Depth Interview About the Importance of Abstinence Education." In actuality, the organization conducted the interview itself and reportedly paid Sky Radio $2,950 to air the segment on US Airways flights. The interview reached an audience of over one million listeners and allowed Gray to present her views unchallenged.
In the interview, Gray says that abstinence-only-until-marriage is a "health message" and "not a moral or religious message." She states that by promoting an abstinence-only-until-marriage message, we are holding our youth to "higher standards" that will allow them to live out their goals and potentials.
A closer look at one of the abstinence-only-until-marriage programs that Project Reality endorses, A.C. Green's Game Plan, reveals that the organization endorses a fear- and shame-based approach for our youth that denies them the information they need to make responsible sexual health decisions.
When SIECUS brought the inaccuracies of the Project Reality in-flight radio segment to the attention of the US Airways public relations department, the following statement was issued: "Sky Radio is a service to which we [US Airways] subscribe, and which plays on our in-flight audio channels on select flights. We do not dictate their editorial content. Various points of view on a variety of issues are presented on the Sky Radio program, and the programming does not represent the positions of US Airways."
SIECUS then contacted Sky Radio and spoke with a producer there to find out why an organization was allowed to present their views unchallenged on an in-flight "Health Report." Sky Radio explained that they do not air public service announcements, only paid-for radio spots. While the company can reject any program it wants, if an organization purchases the air time, produces the segment, and keeps the language from seeming biased or inaccurate, the radio spot will clear their editorial review and be aired on their in-flight radio service.
"Presenting this paid advertisement as an in-depth interview selected by US Airways is deceitful," said Bill Smith, vice president for public policy at the Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States. "Subjecting airline passengers to Project Reality's dishonest presentation of its radio segment as valid health information further highlights the organization's push to peddle propaganda rather than fact."
- Sky Radio, Business & Lifestyles, Newsdesk, interview segment with Libby Gray, director of Project Reality. Aired on US Airways, September and October 2004.
- Jo Anne Grunbaum, et. al., "Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance - United States, 2003," Surveillance Summaries, Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report 53.SS-2 (21 May 21 2004): 1-95. Available online.
- Fulfilling the Promise: Public Policy and U.S. Family Planning Clinics, (New York: Alan Guttmacher Institute), 2000.