Padres Baseball: Will FSN Take over Broadcasting Rights of the Padres?

Michael ClineCorrespondent IApril 26, 2011

CHICAGO, IL - APRIL 20: Jason Bartlett #8 of the San Diego Padres takes a swing against the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field on April 20, 2011 in Chicago, Illinois. The Cubs defeated the Padres 2-1 in 11 innings. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

For most teams, as long as you live in your team's TV market, you are able to watch the game.

For the Padres, however, it is a different story.

Cox Communications currently holds broadcasting rights for the San Diego Padres, and have ever since 1997. Games from then on were shown on Channel 4SD. Since Cox gained these exclusive broadcasting rights, it's done a good job of bothering rival television providers. Channel 4SD is only available on cable and, only until recently, has been available on cable competitor Time Warner.

This means that any other television provider has no access to Padres baseball. Even if a non-cable subscriber purchased to MLB.TV, the 4SD broadcast would not be shown.

This controversy caused the FCC to close various loopholes in TV contracts in 2010, then forcing the Cox owned TV station to offer the channel to all TV providers. Yet, Cox still gets away with allowing Padres baseball only on cable, because the price Dish Network or DirecTV would have to pay to add 4SD to their lineup is sky high. 

This controversy will end in 2012, when Cox loses broadcasting rights of the San Diego Padres.

Because the Padres would like their games available to all TV subscribers in the San Diego market, they are likely not to renegotiate a broadcasting contract with Cox, ending a 14-year business partnership. The situation for Cox also worsened when Fox offered the Padres a 20-year, $17-$22 million per year contract to gain exclusive rights.

If accepted, Fox would then create another FSN station in the San Diego area, thus gaining broadcasting rights of 19 MLB teams.

It now looks that 4SD will host Padres baseball for its last year. If so, 4SD becomes expendable; its only real purpose was to broadcast the Padres. If and when 4SD dies out, many employees lose their jobs. It is likely that Cox will request that Fox employ those who lost their job.

It is unclear if the play-by-play team at Channel 4SD would transfer to FSN SD.

If Fox brings FSN to San Diego, another question is this: What else would be broadcasted? The only other significant sports teams are the Chargers, which is a part of the NFL's broadcasting deal; the SDSU Aztecs, who belong to the MWC and have a station of their own; and the USD Toreros, who were also shown on 4SD.

Of those three, only USD would be available on FSN exclusively. SDSU would be available only occasionally and the Chargers, along with every other NFL team, are not shown on an FSN station.

A growing problem in San Diego is the lack of professional sports. Pac-12 and other college football/basketball games could be aired to fill the schedule.