Public hearing set on Time Warner-Padres impasse

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padres-genericSAN DIEGO – A City Council committee will hold a March 14 public hearing on the impasse between Fox Sports San Diego and Time Warner Cable over airing Padres baseball games, Councilwoman Sherri Lightner’s office announced Monday.

Lightner said last week that a special meeting of her Rules and Economic Development Committee would be held on the issue because she’s been hearing from constituents that they want to watch the games.

Time Warner provides cable service in Lightner’s district under a franchise agreement with the city.

After Fox Sports opened its San Diego station last year and won Padres broadcast rights, it failed to reach a deal with the cable company to carry the channel.

Residents in San Diego’s northern neighborhoods were unable to watch the local team’s games last season.

With about a month left before 2013 opening day, the two sides still have not reached agreement.

Lightner asked City Attorney Jan Goldsmith to outline what powers the city might bring to bear via the franchise agreement with Time Warner Cable to compel the company to negotiate an agreement.

She said she will also ask representatives from Fox Sports San Diego and Time Warner Cable to attend the hearing to discuss current roadblocks for the deal.

Representatives from the mayor’s office will also be invited.

Mayor Bob Filner recently sent a strongly worded letter to Time Warner Cable Chairman and CEO Glenn Britt and Executive Vice President Melinda Witmer, in which he questioned the company’s “true motivations” and suggested they have pursued sports programming more aggressively in Los Angeles than San Diego.

“As mayor, I will do everything in my power to ensure San Diegans around the region are able to follow and support their hometown baseball team,” wrote Filner in a letter obtained by U-T San Diego.

“Rest assured, I will continue to monitor this situation and am prepared to take the steps necessary to bring about a resolution prior to the 2013 baseball season.”

Fox Sports is carried on Cox Cable, which serves the southern half of the county, AT&T U-Verse, and satellite providers DirecTV and Dish Network.

Time Warner released a statement that read, “We maintain open lines of communication with all the elected officials in the areas we serve to make sure we’re hearing both their concerns and those of their constituents.

We always welcome an open conversation, but this is a dispute between two private parties.”

The hearing is scheduled for 9 a.m. at the City Administration Building.

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