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Baseball season begins but no joy for many San Diego Padres fans

April 01, 2013|By Tony Perry
  • San Diego Padres pitcher Jason Marquis throws during an exhibition game against the Texas Rangers on Saturday at the Alamodome in San Antonio
San Diego Padres pitcher Jason Marquis throws during an exhibition game… (Darren Abate / Associated…)

SAN DIEGO - In New York, the San Diego Padres play the Mets on Monday in their first game of the 2013 season.

But in San Diego County, 185,000 homes -- 22% of the pay-television market -- will not be able to watch the Padres on TV because of a stalemate between Fox Sports San Diego and Time Warner Cable that has entered a second season.

Fox Sports holds the broadcast rights to Padres games. Four TV-service providers in the San Diego County market have signed with Fox but not Time Warner Cable, which has 22% of the market, mostly in the northern stretch of the city and its suburbs.

Hectoring from the San Diego City Council has failed to get the two sides to reach a resolution. Both sides say they're willing to negotiate but there is no sign of movement.

Like baseball, television is a business. Fox says it has offered Time Warner the same deal that the four other vendors signed. Time Warner says the price is too high. According to sportsbusinessdaily.com, the Padres last season had one of the largest drops in viewership of any major-league team.

Fans are fuming. "It's a betrayal of Time Warner's public trust," said George Mitrovich, founder and president of the City Club of San Diego.

But a poll by a local TV station suggests that non-fans are not keen on seeing their Time Warner Cable bills increase so fans can see the Padres. Sports is a major factor in the cost of cable and satellite-TV bills.

Mayor Bob Filner has suggested that if enough Time Warner Cable customers switch to other providers, the New York-based company will get the message and sign with Fox Sports. That does not appear to have happened.

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Twitter: @LATSanDiego

tony.perry@latimes.com

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