Negotiators may meet to settle Time Warner-Fox Sports dispute over carrying Padres games

James R. Riffel

SAN DIEGO (CNS) – Representatives of Fox Sports San Diego and Time Warner Cable said Thursday that negotiators in the dispute over carrying Padres games may meet next week in New York in an attempt to seek a resolution. Time Warner’s service area includes Rancho Bernardo, Carmel Mountain Ranch, Sabre Springs, Rancho Penasquitos and a portion of Poway.

Their comments came at the end of a two-hour hearing of the San Diego City Council’s Rules and Economic Development Committee, which was prompted by complaints from Time Warner customers that they were about to embark on a second season of not being able to watch Padres contests.

Fox Sports opened its San Diego outlet last year and won broadcast rights for the hometown team, but has not been able to get the channel placed on Time Warner Cable. The cable provider serves 22 percent of the local market in neighborhoods north of Interstate 8 via a franchise agreement with the city.

“I will note for this committee and our neighbors that here in San Diego, we have offered Time Warner Cable fair market terms and conditions that other leading providers have agreed to,’’ said Henry Ford, senior vice president and general manager of FSSD. “Time Warner Cable is not being asked to pay more than anyone else.’’

Fox Sports San Diego can be seen on Cox Cable, AT&T U-Verse, or satellite carriers.

Deane Leavenworth, a vice president of external affairs for Time Warner, told the committee members that his company would carry the channel if it was offered at a fair price. However, in the current competitive marketplace, what might be good for other service providers might not work for Time Warner, he said.

He said his company conducted a survey that found most customers were unwilling to pay higher rates so they could watch the Padres.

Councilman David Alvarez twice asked for five-minute breaks to allow Ford and Leavenworth to call their negotiating teams and have them arrange meetings. The second time, they learned their representatives would be in New York at the same time.

“We want you to meet — we want you to have an agreement,” Alvarez said. “There’s a lot of people who can’t go to the games, who can’t go to Petco Park, and they have to watch on TV, and it’s those people who are affected the most.”

City Attorney Jan Goldsmith said the city, thanks to recent court decisions, cannot mandate that cable franchisees carry certain channels, and cannot regulate cable rates. However, under the franchise agreement, the city can examine Time Warner’s records on its operations.

Councilwoman Marti Emerald asked Goldsmith to work with Mayor Bob Filner to gain access to the records.

“I’m not holding my breath on an agreement,” Emerald said.

In remarks to the committee, the mayor offered to mediate the dispute, but also said he would encourage Time Warner customers to change services if an agreement isn’t reached.

He said Time Warner’s refusal to meet the market price is an “insult” to the people of San Diego.

An email address was set up for Padres fans in the Time Warner service area to vent their frustration, and lodge their intention to change services.

The address is gopadres@sandiego.gov.

The committee approved a resolution offered by Chairwoman Sherri Lightner calling for the two sides to find a resolution. Committee members Kevin Faulconer and Mark Kersey did not attend. Spokespeople for both said they had previously scheduled meetings.

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Posted by Staff on Mar 14 2013. Filed under Rancho Bernardo/4S Ranch (Click here for more stories). You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

3 Comments for “Negotiators may meet to settle Time Warner-Fox Sports dispute over carrying Padres games”

  1. Jason

    Someone give Henry Ford a kleenex to cry into. He conveniently leaves ot the fact that FSSD fills out its schedule with programming that also airs on Fox Sports Prime Ticket, which TWC already carries. His "fair market terms" would have TWC pay twice for much of the same content. It's a pity no one on the city council called him out for being willfully deceptive.

    • tom

      That is not true. The deals that have been proposed have resolved that and do NOT have any "double payment" whatever that is supposed to mean. The net increase is quite large no doubt, but that is largely because the previous (and if you recall, cable-only) deal was so under market. Besides, last I heard, Time Warner had not reduced its monthly rate to reflect the Padre content they have no longer been paying for for what is now going on 2 years. That $2.50 per month per subscriber has been going straight to the bottom line since the end of the 2011 season. Talk about rip-off. Note I was fortunate that I could switch from TWC to DirectTV which I did a year ago. The service and content has been excellent, and I have saved about $1,000 in the first year over TWC.

  2. Dale

    You wouldn't believe how many AT&T U-Verse and Satellite trucks I've seen in my neighborhood lately. Folks are getting tired of being raked over the coals by Time warner. I'm joining them soon. And why not? I'll be cutting my bill in half while added better service.

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