Scottsdale has suspended shows hosted by the Arizona Republic and a local nonprofit from airing on City Cable Channel 11 until a new policy is in place to determine who is allowed air time on the government-funded network.
The shows will be suspended for at least a month, said Pat Dodds, city spokesman. The city has no formal policy as to who gets on the air.
"We're developing a refined set of guidelines," Dodds said. "While we're doing that, those two shows are on hold."
Channel 11 is available to cable subscribers and on the city's Web site. Scottsdale spends nearly $400,000 a year to operate it.
The channel routinely broadcasts meetings of the City Council and some commissions, along with programming produced by county, state and federal governments.
It also broadcasts shows by entities that have a contractual relationship with the city, like the Scottsdale Convention and Visitors Bureau.
Scottsdale officials began to re-examine the guidelines on who is allowed a show after Sue Wood, president of the Scottsdale Small Business Alliance, requested air time. Wood made the request after seeing what she thinks is bias favoring city positions in talk shows now airing.
Wood has said if given a show, she would invite people on to discuss traffic - she runs the scottsdaletraffic.com Web site - but would also tackle other issues. Her group is critical of light rail, roundabouts and high-density development.
Dodds said the request prompted city officials to look at how other cities regulate programming and to examine the history of Channel 11 in Scottsdale and how it evolved, the Tribune reported last week.
A refined Scottsdale policy would determine who is qualified to host a show, how requests for air time should be prioritized and make a determination as to what benefit a proposed show would be to the public.
In the meantime, new broadcasts hosted by the Republic and by Leaders in Nonpartisan Knowledge-based Solutions, or LINKS, a nonprofit that receives $52,000 a year in city money, have been halted. Neither user pays for studio time.
Dennis Grzelak, Channel 11 video production manager, said each show is recorded once a month. The Republic-hosted shows air three times on Wednesdays, while the LINKS show airs three times on Saturdays, he said.
Grzelak said one unaired edition of the Republic's show about chewing tobacco will continue to air during the next month, but after that it will no longer be broadcast, unless the new city policy deems it acceptable.
Since the LINKS program does not have any unaired shows, it has ceased to broadcast for the time being, he said.
In place of those shows, the city will air informational shows produced by government agencies like the U.S. Army, Maricopa County Community College District and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, Grzelak said.
Dodds said the policy re-examination also will consider whether giving Wood a show would open the door to requests by other nongovernment people and agencies.
"We have a limited resource," Dodds said of the channel's air time. "It's clearly not a public access channel. It's a government access channel."
The Tribune does not have a recurring show on Channel 11, but does host debates each election season.