The San Diego Padres open the 2012 Major League Baseball season versus the Los Angeles Dodgers on April 5. Time Warner Cable customers in the San Diego area may not get to see the game on television.
The cable operator and Fox Sports San Diego, which is now the new regional sports network home to the baseball team, are at loggerheads over license fees negotiations for the service, which will televise 157 Padres contests in 2012.
After Fox sent off a salvo asserting that Time Warner Cable customers could miss the opening part of the club's campaign, the MSO countered by saying Fox is seeking a major increase over what it paid Cox 4, the former rights-holder, last year.
"This is unreasonable, and it's the main issue," TWC said in an email. "No one at Time Warner Cable got a 400 percent raise last year, and we're pretty sure none of our customers did either."
Fox retorted along ownership lines, with this statement. "Time Warner's comparison is absurd. FS San Diego is a new 24/7 local sports network featuring more than 150 Padres games and more than 300 pro and collegiate events. For Time Warner to compare it to a completely different channel that wasn't owned by Fox is a smokescreen to avoid paying a fair market rate."
A Fox spokesman mentioned there hadn't been any meaningful conversations with Time Warner in weeks.
TWC had a different view: "We want to pay for the Padres, and we have offered Fox a significant fee to carry the Padres.People are sick of these constant blackout threats from programmers like Fox. It's time for cooler heads to prevail."
The operator also said that it already receives Los Angeles Clippers National Basketball Association and Anaheim Ducks National Hockey League games in San Diego via Fox's Prime Ticket RSN, so, in effect, it would be paying twice.
"Not true. They will not be paying twice," said Fox. "Distributors can carry Fox Sports San Diego in lieu of Prime Ticket."
At press time, DirecTV and Cox have reached carriage deals, financial terms of which have not been disclosed, with FS San Diego.
Fox said discussions are ongoing with Dish Network, but there hadn't been meaningful conversations with AT&T U-verse in some time.