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San Diego Holds Hearing On Padres TV Impasse

Aired 3/14/13 on KPBS News.

Time Warner Cable customers in San Diego are sick and tired of not being able to watch the Padres on TV. Now a San Diego City Council committee is trying to remedy the situation.

The City Council Rules Committee held a special hearing today to try to resolve the impasse between Time Warner Cable and Fox Sports San Diego. The companies have been unable to come to an agreement over airing the Padres games. But neither company was very forthcoming with any information at the hearing. For instance, at one point City Councilwoman Marti Emerald tried to get some financial information out of each company. When neither complied, she told them the city would get the information on its own.

San Diego Padres players high-five after beating the Chicago Cubs 2-0 in a baseball game at Petco Park on August 6, 2012 in San Diego, California.
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Above: San Diego Padres players high-five after beating the Chicago Cubs 2-0 in a baseball game at Petco Park on August 6, 2012 in San Diego, California.

“Do we subpoena those records?” Emerald asked City Attorney Jan Goldsmith. He told her the mayor could. Emerald then turned to the company representatives.

“Now you know our mayor and our city attorney are going to get those records,” she said.

Fox Sports San Diego holds the contract to air the Padres games, and Time Warner Cable provides service to much of San Diego’s North County. The two companies were in a standoff all last season and Time Warner didn’t broadcast the games. And as Opening Day approaches, fans with Time Warner will either have to switch to a different service provider or hope an agreement will be reached before the first pitch of this season is thrown.

Councilman David Alvarez was adamant the sides come up with a date for their next negotiation.

“We appreciate that you do business in San Diego and want you to continue to be successful,” he said. “But we’re asking for you to be a part of the solution. And that’s why I asked you to go and find out some time to meet.”

The companies agreed they would meet again next week in New York, but didn’t offer any possible solutions to the impasse. Both maintain this is a private business dispute. That frustrates Time Warner Cable customer Dolores Hanker.

“I had thought we’d able to walk away and call our friends and say the Padres are going to be on,” she said. “But, it doesn’t look good.”

Ultimately the committee voted to begin the process of getting financial records from the companies, but there’s still no end to the dispute in sight. The city says it will keep the pressure on Time Warner Cable and Fox Sports San Diego until a deal is reached.

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