SBD/April 5, 2012/MLB Season Preview

Padres Enter Season With Time Warner Yet To Reach Deal To Carry FS San Diego

The Padres begin the '12 season today against the Dodgers, but fewer local HHs "will be able to watch the first pitch this year than last year," according to Mike Freeman of the SAN DIEGO UNION-TRIBUNE. Fox Sports is "embroiled in a bitter fight" with Time Warner Cable -- which has about 210,000 local subscriber HHs -- over carriage fees for FS San Diego, which has the rights to the team. AT&T's U-Verse and Dish Network "also haven't inked deals yet" to carry the games. Only Cox Communications and DirecTV currently have a deal to carry FS San Diego. Analysts said that it is hard to see the feud between Fox and TWC "dragging on all season." FS San Diego "needs pay TV providers to sign up to make its TV rights pact with the Padres pay off." The net is expected to pay the Padres up to $40M this season, compared to the $15M the team received last year from Cox Channel 4. TWC "has a history of balking at ever escalating programming fees," but the danger "lies in its customers switching to competitors." DirecTV has "already run advertisements in San Diego touting the fact that it offers Padres games." TWC says that FS San Diego is seeking a 400% increase "from what it was previously paying to broadcast the Padres." While TWC claims the sides are talking, TWC San Diego Media Relations Manager Ann Kelsey said Fox' demands "are unfair and unreasonable." Fox counters that both Cox and DirecTV "have already agreed to its asking price, thus setting the market rate." Freeman writes how long the dispute lasts "may center on how well the Padres perform early in the season" (SAN DIEGO UNION-TRIBUNE, 4/5).
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