Cox loses TV rights for Padres in 2012

By James R. Riffel

City News Service

Padres baseball games will not be telecast on Channel 4 San Diego in 2012, and an unspecified number of employees involved in baseball programming have received layoff notices, Cox Communications confirmed Tuesday.

It has been rumored for months that Fox Sports was going to assume the broadcast rights for Padres games next year, but there has been no official announcement of the succession to date.

Some published reports earlier this year indicated the new deal could be worth as much as $30 million annually over 20 years, far more than the cash-strapped franchise receives now.

Cox will not be the rights-holder next year,’' said Sam Attisha, vice president of public affairs for the cable provider in San Diego.

Channel 4 San Diego, which was built around Padres telecasts and expanded over the last 15 years to include high school and college sports events and other local programming, will continue operations, he said.

It’s a station we spent a lot of time building up,’' Attisha said.We need to re-evaluate, like everyone else is doing, and focus on the things we’re good at.’'

He said the station will continue to produce the popular Sam the Cooking Guy’’ program, the annualSalute to Teachers’’ and the Big Bay Balloon Parade.

It will also increase its coverage of San Diego State University athletics through an agreement to simulcast productions by the Mountain West Conference’s cable outlet.

The station’s broadcast rights to University of San Diego sports have expired.

The layoff notices that went out to employees are effective for some at the end of the Padres baseball season, and others at the end of the calendar year, according to Attish.

It was a hard day’’ for him and other employees, butthey’ve known about this for a while,’' Attish said.

He said Cox Communications looks forward to working with the Padres in other capacities and planned to accommodate the next rights-holder.