SAN DIEGO (CNS) - The city of San Diego's legal options for resolving an impasse between Time Warner Cable and Fox Sports San Diego over carrying Padres baseball games are limited to asking questions about the cable carrier's good faith, City Attorney Jan Goldsmith opined Wednesday.
With opening day a little over three weeks away, Time Warner has not agreed to carry Fox Sports San Diego, which owns the Padres broadcast rights. Time Warner customers, who live in San Diego neighborhoods north of Interstate 8, couldn't watch the hometown team's games last year, either.
Deluged with complaints, City Councilwoman Sherri Lightner has called a March 14 special meeting of the council's Rules and Economic Development Committee, which she chairs.
In a memo to Lightner, first obtained by U-T San Diego, Goldsmith wrote, "The city has no authority under the franchise agreement to mandate carriage of Padres broadcasts and certainly couldn't do so by ordinance."
He said Federal Communications Commission rules that required cable companies to carry certain channels were struck down by the U.S. Supreme Court.
Federal law does, however, require Time Warner - which operates under a franchise agreement with the city - to act in good faith, Goldsmith said. He said that is a reasonable line of inquiry for the City Council based on the cable firm's costly pursuit of sports programming in Los Angeles.
He said he does not recommend "legal action or the threat of legal action" against Time Warner. The ultimate solution, according to Goldsmith, will be customer demand to watch the Padres - either by forcing Time Warner to carry the games or by switching to a satellite or Internet-based provider.