Liberty Global 10-K 2010
Documents found in this filing:
UNITED STATES SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION
WASHINGTON, D.C. 20549
For the fiscal year ended December 31, 2009
For the transition period from to
Commission File Number 000-51360
Liberty Global, Inc.
(Exact name of Registrant as specified in its charter)
Registrants telephone number, including area code:
Securities registered pursuant to Section 12(b) of the Act:
Securities registered pursuant to Section 12(g) of the Act:
Indicate by check mark if the Registrant is a well-known seasoned issuer, as defined in Rule 405 of the Securities Act. Yes þ No ¨
Indicate by check mark if the Registrant is not required to file reports pursuant to Section 13 or Section 15(d) of the Act. Yes ¨ No þ
Indicate by check mark whether the Registrant (1) has filed all reports required to be filed by Section 13 or 15(d) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 during the preceding 12 months and (2) has been subject to such filing requirements for the past 90 days. Yes þ No ¨
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant has submitted electronically and posted on its corporate Web site, if any, every Interactive Data File required to be submitted and posted pursuant to Rule 405 of Regulation S-T (§232.405 of this chapter) during the preceding 12 months (or for such shorter period that the registrant was required to submit and post such files). Yes x No ¨
Indicate by check mark if disclosure of delinquent filers pursuant to Item 405 of Regulation S-K is not contained herein, and will not be contained, to the best of registrants knowledge, in definitive proxy or information statements incorporated by reference in Part III of this Form 10-K or any amendment to this Form 10-K. ¨
Indicate by check mark whether the Registrant is a large accelerated filer, an accelerated filer, a non-accelerated filer or a smaller reporting company. See definition of large accelerated filer, accelerated filer and smaller reporting company in Rule 12b-2 of the Exchange Act. Check one:
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant is a shell company as defined in Rule 12b-2 of the Exchange Act. Yes ¨ No þ
State the aggregate market value of the voting and non-voting common equity held by non-affiliates, computed by reference to the price at which the common equity was last sold, or the average bid and ask price of such common equity, as of the last business day of the registrants most recently completed second fiscal quarter: $4.1 billion.
The number of outstanding shares of Liberty Global, Inc.s common stock as of February 19, 2010 was:
135,071,170 shares of Series A common stock;
9,355,501 shares of Series B common stock; and
123,999,389 shares of Series C common stock.
DOCUMENTS INCORPORATED BY REFERENCE
Portions of the definitive proxy statement for the Registrants 2010 Annual Meeting of Stockholders are incorporated by reference in Part III of this Form 10-K.
2009 ANNUAL REPORT ON FORM 10-K
TABLE OF CONTENTS
General Development of Business
Liberty Global, Inc. (LGI) is an international provider of video, voice and broadband internet services, with consolidated broadband communications and/or direct-to-home (DTH) satellite operations at December 31, 2009, in 14 countries, primarily in Europe, Japan and Chile. Through our indirect wholly-owned subsidiary, UPC Holding BV (UPC Holding), we provide video, voice and broadband internet services in nine European countries and in Chile. The European broadband communications operations of UPC Broadband Holding BV, a subsidiary of UPC Holding (UPC Broadband Holding), are collectively referred to as the UPC Broadband Division. UPC Broadband Holdings broadband communications operations in Chile are provided through VTR Global Com SA (VTR). Through our 50.5% indirect majority ownership interest in Telenet Group Holding NV (Telenet), we provide broadband communications services in Belgium. Through our 55.0% indirect majority owned subsidiary, Austar United Communications Limited (Austar), we provide DTH satellite services in Australia. Through our indirect controlling ownership interest in Jupiter Telecommunications Co., Ltd. (J:COM) (37.8% at December 31, 2009), we provided broadband communications and, to a lesser extent, programming services in Japan through February 17, 2010. We also have (1) consolidated broadband communications operations in Puerto Rico and (2) consolidated interests in certain programming businesses in Europe and Argentina. Our consolidated programming interests in Europe are primarily held through Chellomedia BV (Chellomedia), which also owns or manages investments in various other businesses, primarily in Europe. Certain of Chellomedias subsidiaries and affiliates provide programming services to certain of our broadband communications operations, primarily in Europe.
In the following text, the terms we, our, our company, and us may refer, as the context requires, to LGI or collectively to LGI and its predecessors and subsidiaries.
Unless otherwise indicated, convenience translations into U.S. dollars are calculated as of December 31, 2009, and operational data, including subscriber statistics and ownership percentages, are as of December 31, 2009.
Unitymedia. On January 28, 2010, UPC Germany GmbH (UPC Germany), our indirect wholly-owned subsidiary, purchased all of the issued and outstanding shares of capital stock of Unitymedia GmbH (Unitymedia) for 2,006.0 million ($2,803.0 million at the transaction date) in cash, pursuant to the terms of a share purchase agreement, dated November 13, 2009 (the Unitymedia Acquisition). The cash purchase price, together with Unitymedias net debt (aggregate principal amount outstanding less cash and cash equivalents) and capital lease obligations of 2,042.6 million ($2,854.1 million) at January 28, 2010, results in total consideration of 4,048.6 million ($5,657.1 million at the transaction date), before direct acquisition costs. Unitymedia is the second largest cable television provider in Germany and the largest in the German federal states of North Rhine-Westphalia and Hesse based on the number of video cable subscribers. Unitymedia offers video, voice and data services. Its cable network is available to approximately 8.8 million households in Germany, including households in the cities of Cologne, Dusseldorf and Frankfurt.
For additional information on the Unitymedia Acquisition, see note 22 to our consolidated financial statements included in Part II of this report. In addition, during 2009, we completed various other smaller acquisitions in the normal course of business.
UPC Slovenia. On July 15, 2009, one of our subsidiaries sold 100% of its interest in our cable and multi-channel multipoint (microwave) distribution system (MMDS) networks in Slovenia to Mid Europa Partners for a cash purchase price of 119.5 million ($168.4 million at the transaction date).
J:COM. On February 18, 2010, we sold to KDDI Corporation (KDDI) all of our ownership interests in three of our subsidiaries, which directly or indirectly through LGI/Sumisho Super Media LP (Super Media) and certain trust arrangements held our ownership interests in J:COM (the J:COM Disposal Group). In connection with the sale of the J:COM Disposal Group, we retained the right to receive the anticipated final 2009 dividend of ¥490 ($5.43 at the applicable rate) per share attributable to our interest in J:COM. Such dividend is expected to be approved at the March 2010 J:COM shareholders meeting. Including both the proceeds received upon the sale and the anticipated dividend, we expect to realize gross proceeds of approximately ¥362.9 billion ($4,024.8 million at the applicable rate). The net proceeds were used in part to repay in full the ¥75 billion ($831.8 million at the applicable rate) credit facility of our indirect wholly-owned subsidiary, LGJ Holdings LLC, and to repay notes issued in connection with the purchase of the minority interests in one of the subsidiaries sold. Prior to the closing date, Sumitomo Corporations (Sumitomo) 41.3% interest in Super Media was redeemed for the J:COM shares attributable to such interest.
For additional information on the foregoing dispositions, see notes 5 and 22 to our consolidated financial statements included in Part II of this report.
Unitymedia Acquisition Financing. On November 20, 2009, UPC Germany issued: (1) 1,430.0 million ($2,049.3 million) principal amount of 8.125% senior secured notes (the Euro Senior Secured Notes), at an issue price of 97.844%, resulting in cash proceeds of 1,399.2 million ($2,077.8 million at the transaction date) before transaction costs, (2) $845.0 million principal amount of 8.125% senior secured notes (the Dollar Senior Secured Notes), at an issue price of 97.844%, resulting in cash proceeds of $826.8 million before transaction costs and (3) 665.0 million ($953.0 million) principal amount of 9.625% senior notes (the Senior Notes), at an issue price of 97.652%, resulting in cash proceeds of 649.4 million ($964.3 million at the transaction date) before transaction costs. The Euro Senior Secured Notes and the Dollar Senior Secured Notes (together, the Senior Secured Notes) mature on December 1, 2017. The Senior Notes mature on December 1, 2019.
The net proceeds of the sale of the Senior Secured Notes and the Senior Notes were deposited in escrow accounts pending their use by UPC Germany, together with other funds, to acquire all of the outstanding capital stock of Unitymedia, to repay existing indebtedness of Unitymedia and to cover certain costs and expenses. On January 28, 2010, we used 849.2 million ($1,186.6 million at the transaction date) of the proceeds in escrow to fund a portion of the purchase price for the Unitymedia Acquisition. In March 2010, (1) the remaining balances in the escrow accounts will be released in connection with the repayment of Unitymedias existing indebtedness and (2) Unitymedia and certain subsidiaries of Unitymedia will assume the obligations of UPC Germany under the Senior Notes and the Senior Secured Notes, respectively (collectively, the Debt Pushdown).
In November 2009, we completed the offering and sale of $935.0 million principal amount of 4.50% convertible senior notes due November 15, 2016 (the LGI Convertible Notes). The LGI Convertible Notes may be converted into shares of our Series A and Series C common stock. The initial conversion rates are 28.2602 shares of Series A common stock and 9.4201 shares of Series C common stock per $1,000 principal amount of LGI Convertible Notes, which represents an initial conversion price of approximately $26.5391 per basket of .75 of a Series A share and .25 of a Series C share. We may settle our conversion obligation in shares of LGIs Series A common stock and Series C common stock, cash or a combination of the foregoing, at our election. The conversion rates are subject to customary adjustments. In addition, upon the occurrence of certain fundamental changes, we will in certain circumstances increase the conversion rates by a number of additional shares of our Series A and Series C common stock. The LGI Convertible Notes may not be redeemed by us at our election prior to the scheduled maturity date. Holders of the LGI Convertible Notes may require us to repurchase all or a portion of their notes upon the occurrence of a fundamental change at a cash price equal to 100% of the principal amount of the notes being repurchased, plus accrued and unpaid interest to, but excluding, the repurchase date.
Concurrently with the issuance of the LGI Convertible Notes, we sold 4.5 million shares of our Series A common stock and 1.5 million shares of our Series C common stock for aggregate consideration of $128.3 million
or $21.375 per share in a private placement transaction (the Private Placement). The net proceeds from the LGI Convertible Notes and the Private Placement were used to fund a portion of the cash purchase price for the Unitymedia Acquisition.
Unitymedia Revolving Credit Facility. On December 21, 2009, UPC Germany entered into an 80.0 million ($114.6 million) secured revolving credit facility agreement with certain lenders (the Unitymedia Revolving Credit Facility). The Unitymedia Revolving Credit Facility matures on December 31, 2014, and bears interest at EURIBOR, plus 3.75%. Borrowings under the Unitymedia Revolving Credit Facility may be used for general corporate and working capital purposes. Under the terms of the Unitymedia Revolving Credit Facility, no amounts were available to be drawn prior to completion of the Unitymedia Acquisition. Thereafter, up to 40 million ($57.3 million) may be drawn with the remaining 40 million available to be drawn after completion of the Debt Pushdown in March 2010.
UPC Broadband Holding Bank Facility Refinancing Transactions. The UPC Broadband Holding Bank Facility is the senior secured credit facility of UPC Broadband Holding. During 2009, pursuant to various additional facility accession agreements, new Facilities Q, R, S, T and U (collectively, the New Facilities) were executed under the UPC Broadband Holding Bank Facility. Facility Q is a redrawable term loan facility. Facilities R, S, T and U are non-redrawable term loan facilities.
In connection with the completion of the New Facilities, certain of the lenders under the existing Facilities L, M and N novated their commitments to one of our indirect subsidiaries, which in turn novated its commitments to a subsidiary of UPC Broadband Holding, and entered into the New Facilities. As a result, total commitments of 700.3 million ($1,003.6 million), 2,935.8 million ($4,207.2 million) and $500.0 million under Facilities L, M and N, respectively, were rolled into the New Facilities during 2009. Among other matters, the completion of the New Facilities resulted in the extension of the maturity dates of a significant portion of the debt outstanding under the UPC Broadband Holding Bank Facility.
During September and October 2009, Facility T was increased by $325.0 million through the addition of (1) a $25.0 million tranche issued at par and (2) a $300.0 million tranche issued at a discount of 4%, resulting in net proceeds after discounts of $313.0 million. In November 2009, Facility Q was increased by a 35.0 million ($50.2 million) redrawable term loan facility.
UPCB Finance Senior Secured Notes. On January 20, 2010, UPCB Finance Limited (UPCB Finance), a special purpose financing company created for the primary purpose of issuing senior notes and owned 100% by a charitable trust, issued 500.0 million ($716.5 million) principal amount of 7.625% senior secured notes (the UPCB Senior Secured Notes) at an original issue discount of 0.862%, resulting in cash proceeds before commissions and fees of 495.7 million ($710.4 million). UPCB Finance used the proceeds from the UPCB Senior Secured Notes to fund a new additional facility (Facility V) under the UPC Broadband Holding Bank Facility, with UPC Financing Partnership (UPC Financing), a direct wholly-owned subsidiary of UPC Holding, as the borrower. UPC Financing used the proceeds from Facility V to reduce outstanding amounts under Facilities M and Q under the UPC Broadband Holding Bank Facility through (i) the novation of 152.7 million ($218.8 million) of commitments under Facility M to UPC Broadband Operations and (ii) the use of the remaining 347.3 million ($497.7 million) to repay borrowings under Facility Q.
UPCB Finance is dependent on payments from UPC Financing under Facility V in order to service its payment obligations under the UPCB Senior Secured Notes. Although UPC Financing has no equity or voting interest in UPCB Finance, the Facility V loan creates a variable interest in UPCB Finance for which UPC Financing is the primary beneficiary, which requires UPC Financing and its parent entities, including UPC Holding and LGI, to consolidate UPCB Finance. UPCB Finance, as a lender under the UPC Broadband Holding Bank Facility, is treated the same as the other lenders under the UPC Broadband Holding Bank Facility and will have benefits, rights and protections that are similar to those benefits, rights and protections afforded to the other lenders.
UPC Holding Senior Notes. On April 30, 2009, UPC Holding issued 184.4 million ($264.3 million) aggregate principal amount of 9.75% senior notes due April 2018 (the 9.75% Senior Notes), together with cash payments of 4.6 million ($6.6 million) and 4.1 million ($5.9 million), respectively, in exchange for (1) 115.3 million ($165.2 million) aggregate principal amount of its existing 7.75% senior notes due 2014, and (2) 69.1 million ($99.0 million) aggregate principal amount of its existing 8.625% senior notes due 2014.
Concurrently with such exchange, UPC Holding also issued 65.6 million ($94.0 million) principal amount of additional 9.75% senior notes at an original issue discount of 16.5%, resulting in cash proceeds before commissions and fees of 54.8 million ($78.5 million). On May 29, 2009, UPC Holding issued 150.0 million ($215.0 million) principal amount of additional 9.75% senior notes at an original issue discount of 10.853% and $400.0 million principal amount of new 9.875% senior notes due April 2018 (the 9.875% Senior Notes) at an original issue discount of 7.573%, resulting in cash proceeds before commissions and fees of 133.7 million ($191.6 million) and $369.7 million, respectively. The net proceeds from the issuance of the 9.75% and 9.875% Senior Notes, after deducting applicable commissions and fees, were used for general corporate purposes.
At any time prior to April 15, 2013 in the case of the 9.75% Senior Notes and April 15, 2014 in the case of the 9.875% Senior Notes, UPC Holding may redeem some or all of such Senior Notes by paying a make-whole premium, which is the present value of all scheduled interest payments until April 15, 2013 or 2014, as the case may be, using the discount rate (as specified in the applicable indenture) as of the redemption date, plus 50 basis points.
Telenet Credit Facility Refinancing Transactions. In June 2009, Telenet Bidco NV, an indirect wholly-owned subsidiary of Telenet, amended its existing senior credit facility agreement (the Telenet Credit Facility), whereby the undrawn 225.0 million ($322.4 million) term loan B2 facility (the Telenet Facility B2), which was available to be drawn up to June 30, 2009, was split into two separate facilities: (1) a 135.0 million ($193.5 million) term loan facility (the Telenet Facility B2A), which is available to be drawn up to and including June 30, 2010, and (2) a 90.0 million ($129.0 million) term loan facility (the Telenet Facility B2B), which was drawn in full on June 29, 2009. The applicable terms and conditions of the Telenet Facility B2A and the Telenet Facility B2B are the same as the Telenet Facility B2. After the completion of this transaction, the Telenet Credit Facility included Facilities A, B1, B2A, B2B and C, all of which are term loan facilities, and a revolving loan facility.
On August 25, 2009, pursuant to various additional facility accession agreements, new Telenet Facilities D, E1, E2 and F (collectively, the New Telenet Facilities) were executed under the Telenet Credit Facility. All of the New Telenet Facilities are euro-denominated term loan facilities. In connection with the completion of the New Telenet Facilities, certain of the lenders under the existing Facilities A, B1, B2A, B2B and C novated their commitments to Telenet Mobile NV, an indirect wholly-owned subsidiary of Telenet, and entered into the New Telenet Facilities. As a result, during the third quarter of 2009, total commitments of 452.8 million ($648.9 million), 238.5 million ($341.8 million), 90.0 million ($129.0 million), 90.0 million ($129.0 million) and 979.2 million ($1,403.3 million) under Telenet Facilities A, B1, B2A, B2B and C, respectively, were rolled into the New Telenet Facilities. Among other matters, the completion of the New Telenet Facilities resulted in the extension of the maturity dates of a significant portion of the debt outstanding under the Telenet Credit Facility.
Austar Bank Facility. On September 17, 2009, an indirect wholly-owned subsidiary of Austar amended its senior bank facility (the Austar Bank Facility) to extend the maturity date of a portion of its existing AUD 225.0 million ($202.0 million) term loan (Tranche A), which was fully drawn at that date. Under the terms of the amendment, lenders representing AUD 176.0 million ($158.0 million) of the AUD 225.0 million amount outstanding under Tranche A have agreed to a forward start structure, whereby a new Tranche A2 was created and will be available to be drawn, at Austars option, upon the final maturity of Tranche A in August 2011. The AUD 49.0 million ($44.0 million) of Tranche A that was not effectively extended continues to bear interest at AUD BBSY, plus a margin ranging from 0.90% to 1.70% and matures in August 2011. The new Tranche A2 matures in August 2014 and borrowings under Tranche A2, if drawn, will bear interest at AUD BBSY, plus a margin ranging from 2.80% to 4.00%, depending on Austars leverage ratio at the time of the drawdown. Tranche A2 provides for an annual commitment fee of 1.0% of the committed Tranche A2 amount until August 2011.
J:COM Debt. In March 2009, J:COM entered into (1) a ¥15.0 billion ($161.0 million) variable-rate term loan agreement, (2) a ¥10.0 billion ($107.4 million) variable-interest rate term loan agreement, (3) a ¥4.0 billion ($42.9 million) variable-interest rate term loan agreement and (4) a ¥1.0 billion ($10.7 million) fixed-interest rate term loan agreement (collectively, the 2009 J:COM Term Loans). All amounts under the 2009 J:COM Term Loans were fully drawn in March 2009 and proceeds were used to repay the outstanding debt on certain other J:COM revolving credit facilities. The interest rate on the new variable-interest rate loans are based on three-month TIBOR, plus a margin ranging from 0.43% to 0.65%. The new ¥1.0 billion fixed-interest loan bears interest at 1.85%. The 2009 J:COM Term Loans contain covenants similar to those of J:COMs existing credit facilities.
In July 2009, J:COM issued ¥10.0 billion ($107.4 million) principal amount of new unsecured bonds (the J:COM Bonds). The proceeds from the J:COM Bonds were used for general corporate purposes. The J:COM Bonds mature on June 30, 2014 and bear interest at 1.51%.
UGC Convertible Notes. In March 2009, we repurchased 101.0 million ($136.9 million at the transaction dates) principal amount of the UGC 1 3/4% convertible senior notes due April 15, 2024, at an aggregate purchase price equal to 65% of face value, for a total of 66.4 million ($90.1 million at the transaction dates), including accrued interest thereon.
For a further description of the terms of the above financings and certain other transactions affecting our consolidated debt in 2009, see note 10 to our consolidated financial statements included in Part II of this report.
Pursuant to our various stock repurchase programs, we repurchased during 2009 a total of 8,156,567 shares of LGI Series A common stock at a weighted average price of $18.36 per share and 15,547,602 shares of LGI Series C common stock at a weighted average price of $16.53 per share, for an aggregate cash purchase price of $406.8 million, including direct acquisition costs. At December 31, 2009, we were authorized under our current stock repurchase program to acquire an additional $188.5 million of LGI Series A and Series C common stock through open market transactions or privately negotiated transactions, which may include derivative transactions. The timing of the repurchase of shares pursuant to this program is dependent on a variety of factors, including market conditions. This program may be suspended or discontinued at any time. Subsequent to December 31, 2009, our board of directors increased the amount authorized under our current repurchase program by $350.0 million. As of February 19, 2010, the remaining amount authorized under this program was $538.5 million.
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Certain statements in this Annual Report on Form 10-K constitute forward-looking statements within the meaning of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. To the extent that statements in this Annual Report are not recitations of historical fact, such statements constitute forward-looking statements, which, by definition, involve risks and uncertainties that could cause actual results to differ materially from those expressed or implied by such statements. In particular, statements under Item 1. Business, Item 2. Properties, Item 3. Legal Proceedings, Item 6. Managements Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations and Item 6A. Quantitative and Qualitative Disclosures About Market Risk contain forward-looking statements, including statements regarding business, product, foreign currency and finance strategies, our capital expenditure priorities, subscriber growth and retention rates, competitive and economic factors, the maturity of our markets, anticipated cost increases, liquidity, credit risks, foreign currency risks and target leverage levels. Where, in any forward-looking statement, we express an expectation or belief as to future results or events, such expectation or belief is expressed in good faith and believed to have a reasonable basis, but there can be no assurance that the expectation or belief will result or be achieved or accomplished. In evaluating these statements, you should consider the risks and uncertainties discussed under Item 1A. Risk Factors and Item 6A. Quantitative and Qualitative Disclosures About Market Risk, as well as the following list of some but not all of the factors that could cause actual results or events to differ materially from anticipated results or events:
The broadband communications services industries are changing rapidly and, therefore, the forward-looking statements of expectations, plans and intent in this Annual Report are subject to a significant degree of risk. These forward-looking statements and the above-described risks, uncertainties and other factors speak only as of the date of this Annual Report, and we expressly disclaim any obligation or undertaking to disseminate any updates or revisions to any forward-looking statement contained herein, to reflect any change in our expectations with regard thereto, or any other change in events, conditions or circumstances on which any such statement is based.
Financial Information About Operating Segments
Financial information about our reportable segments appears in note 20 to our consolidated financial statements included in Part II of this report.
Narrative Description of Business
We offer a variety of broadband services over our cable television systems, including video, broadband internet and telephony. Available service offerings depend on the bandwidth capacity of our systems and whether they have been upgraded for two-way communications. In select markets, we also offer video services through DTH or through MMDS. Our analog video service offerings include basic programming and in some markets expanded basic programming. We tailor both our basic channel line-up and our additional channel offerings to each system according to culture, demographics, programming preferences and local regulation. Our digital video service offerings include basic and premium programming and, in most markets, incremental product and service offerings such as enhanced pay-per-view programming, including video-on-demand (VoD) and near-video-on-demand (NVoD), digital video recorders (DVR) and high definition (HD) television services.
We offer broadband internet services in all of our broadband communications markets. Our residential subscribers generally access the internet via cable modems connected to their personal computers at various speeds depending on the tier of service selected. We determine pricing for each different tier of internet service through analysis of speed, data limits, market conditions and other factors. We currently offer ultra high-speed internet services in most of our European markets with download speeds ranging up to 120 Mbps. At December 31, 2009, we also offered ultra high speed services in Japan with download speeds ranging up to 160 Mbps. We expect to continue to expand the availability of ultra high-speed internet services throughout our broadband communications markets.
We offer voice-over-internet-protocol, or VoIP, telephony services in all of our broadband communications markets. In Austria, Belgium, Chile, Hungary, Japan and the Netherlands, we also provide circuit-switched telephony services. In select markets, including Australia and Belgium, we also offer mobile telephony services using third-party networks.
We operate our broadband distribution businesses in Europe through the UPC Broadband Division of Liberty Global Europe Holding BV (Liberty Global Europe), the parent company of UPC Holding, and through Liberty Global Europes indirect subsidiary, Telenet; in the Americas through VTR and Liberty Cablevision of Puerto Rico Ltd. (Liberty Puerto Rico); and in Japan through February 17, 2010, principally through J:COM, a subsidiary of our then indirect majority-owned subsidiary Super Media; and our satellite distribution business in Australia through Austar. Each of Liberty Global Europe, UPC Holding, Telenet, VTR, Liberty Puerto Rico and Austar is a consolidated subsidiary. Through February 17, 2010, J:COM and Super Media were also consolidated subsidiaries. See Recent Developments Dispositions above on the sale of the subsidiaries that held our interests in J:COM and Super Media. Except as otherwise noted, we refer to Liberty Puerto Rico and the countries of South America collectively as the Americas.
The following table presents certain operating data, as of December 31, 2009, with respect to the broadband communications, DTH and MMDS systems of our subsidiaries in Europe, Japan, the Americas and Australia. This table reflects 100% of the operational data applicable to each subsidiary regardless of our ownership percentage.
Consolidated Operating Data
December 31, 2009
Additional General Notes to Table:
With respect to Chile, Japan and Puerto Rico, residential multiple dwelling units with a discounted pricing structure for video, broadband internet or telephony services are counted on an EBU basis. With respect to commercial establishments, such as bars, hotels and hospitals, to which we provide video and other services primarily for the patrons of such establishments, the subscriber count is generally calculated on an EBU basis by our subsidiaries (with the exception of Telenet, which counts commercial establishments on a per connection basis). EBU is generally calculated by dividing the bulk price charged to accounts in an area by the most prevalent price charged to non-bulk residential customers in that market for the comparable tier of service. Telenet leases a portion of its network under a long-term capital lease arrangement. This table includes operating statistics for Telenets owned and leased networks. On a business-to-business basis, certain of our subsidiaries provide data, telephony and other services to businesses, primarily in the Netherlands, Switzerland, Austria, Ireland, Hungary, Belgium and Romania. We generally do not count customers of these services as subscribers, customers or RGUs.
While we take appropriate steps to ensure that subscriber statistics are presented on a consistent and accurate basis at any given balance sheet date, the variability from country to country in (1) the nature and pricing of products and services, (2) the distribution platform, (3) billing systems, (4) bad debt collection experience and (5) other factors add complexity to the subscriber counting process. We periodically review our subscriber counting policies and underlying systems to improve the accuracy and consistency of the data reported. Accordingly, we may from time to time make appropriate adjustments to our subscriber statistics based on those reviews.
Subscriber information for acquired entities is preliminary and subject to adjustment until we have completed our review of such information and determined that it is presented in accordance with our policies.
We own programming networks that provide video programming channels to multi-channel distribution systems owned by us and by third parties. We also represent programming networks owned by others. Our programming networks distribute their services through a number of distribution technologies, principally cable television and DTH. Programming services may be delivered to subscribers as part of a video distributors basic package of programming services for a fixed monthly fee, or may be delivered as a premium programming service for an additional monthly charge or on a VoD or pay-per-view basis. Whether a programming service is on a basic or premium tier, the programmer generally enters into separate affiliation agreements, providing for terms of one or more years, with those distributors that agree to carry the service. Basic programming services generally derive their revenue from per-subscriber license fees received from distributors and the sale of advertising time on their networks. Premium services generally do not sell advertising and primarily generate their revenue from per-subscriber license fees. Programming providers generally have two sources of content: (1) rights to productions that are purchased from various independent producers and distributors, and (2) original productions filmed for the programming provider by internal personnel or third-party contractors. We operate our programming businesses in Europe principally through our subsidiary Chellomedia; in the Americas principally through our subsidiary Pramer S.C.A.; and in Japan through February 17, 2010, principally through our then subsidiary J:COM. We also own joint venture interests in MGM Networks Latin America, LLC, a programming business that serves the Americas, and in XYZ Networks Pty Ltd. (XYZ Networks), a programming business in Australia. Through Chellomedia, we own joint venture interests in the following programming businesses: The History Channel BV, a joint venture with A&E Television Networks, serving Spain and Portugal; Dreamia Holding BV, a joint venture with Zon Multimédia, serving Portugal; CBS Chellozone UK Channels Partnership, a joint venture with CBS Studios International, serving the United Kingdom, and Lightdragon Limited, a joint venture with Scripps Network International Inc., serving Europe, the Middle East and Africa.
Europe Liberty Global Europe
Our European operations are conducted through our wholly-owned subsidiary, Liberty Global Europe, which provides video, voice and broadband internet services in 10 countries in Europe. Liberty Global Europes operations
are currently organized into the UPC Broadband Division, Telenet and the Chellomedia Division. Through the UPC Broadband Division and Telenet, Liberty Global Europe provides video, broadband internet, and fixed line and mobile telephony services. In terms of video subscribers, Liberty Global Europe operates the largest cable network in each of Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Hungary, Ireland, Poland, Slovakia and Switzerland and the second largest cable network in the Netherlands and in Romania. For information concerning the Chellomedia Division, see Chellomedia below.
Provided below is country-specific information with respect to the broadband communications services of our UPC Broadband Division and Telenet.
The UPC Broadband Divisions operations in the Netherlands, which we refer to as UPC Netherlands, are located in six broad regional clusters, including the major cities of Amsterdam and Rotterdam. Its cable networks are 94% upgraded to two-way capability, and almost all of its cable homes passed are served by a network with a bandwidth of at least 860 MHz. UPC Netherlands makes its digital video, broadband internet and fixed line telephony services available to 98%, 94% and 94%, respectively, of its homes passed.
For its analog cable customers, UPC Netherlands offers a basic service of approximately 30 video channels and approximately 40 radio channels, depending on a customers location. For its digital cable customers, UPC Netherlands offers two digital cable packages in either a standard definition (SD) version or an HD version, plus a third package to a limited number of subscribers who do not have two-way capability. Its entry level digital service includes 50 video channels and 70 radio channels (including the channels in its basic analog service). For an additional monthly charge, a digital subscriber may upgrade to an extended digital tier subscription. The extended digital tier includes all the channels of the entry level digital service, plus an extra channel package of approximately 40 general entertainment, sports, movies, documentary, music and ethnic channels. Both digital cable packages include an electronic program guide, interactive services and the functionality for VoD service, including catch-up television. The VoD service includes transaction-based VoD and in the extended digital tier for no additional charge, a subscription-based VoD service. The subscription-based VoD service includes various programming, such as music, kids, documentaries, sports or series (e.g. Desperate Housewives and Sex and the City). Digital cable customers may also subscribe to premium channels, such as Film 1, Sport 1 NL and the premium football league channel, Eredivisie Live, alone or in combination, for additional monthly charges. The premium channels are available through 18 different packages, with a total of 40 premium channels. Its third digital service has 80 video channels and 70 radio channels. In all digital packages, a customer also has the option for an incremental monthly charge to upgrade the digital box to one with DVR functionality or with HD DVR functionality. UPC Netherlands currently offers up to 12 HD channels, depending on the digital service selected.
UPC Netherlands offers six tiers of broadband internet service with download speeds ranging from 5 Mbps to an ultra high-speed internet service with download speeds of up to 120 Mbps based on Euro DOCSIS 3.0 technology. UPC Netherlands, which was one of the first companies in Europe to offer this ultra high-speed internet service, commenced the deployment of this service in September 2008. As of June 30, 2009, this service became available to substantially all of UPC Netherlands two-way homes passed. Multi-feature telephony services are also available from UPC Netherlands through either circuit-switched telephony or VoIP. Of UPC Netherlands total customers, 9.0% subscribe to two services (double-play customers) and 30.3% subscribe to three services (triple-play customers) offered by UPC Netherlands (video, broadband internet and telephony).
In addition, UPC Netherlands offers a range of voice, broadband internet, private data networks and customized network services to small office at home (SOHO) customers and business customers primarily in its core metropolitan networks.
The UPC Broadband Divisions operations in Switzerland and a small portion of Austria, including the city of Vorarlberg, are operated by Cablecom and are located in 24 of the 26 member states (Cantons) of Switzerland,
including major cities such as Bern, Zürich, Lausanne and Geneva. Cablecoms cable networks are 83% upgraded to two-way capability and 83% of its cable homes passed are served by a network with a bandwidth of at least 650 MHz. Cablecom makes its digital video, broadband internet and fixed line telephony services available to 87%, 83% and 83%, respectively, of its homes passed.
For its analog cable customers, Cablecom offers a basic service of 36 video channels and 45 radio channels. The basic service is available in any one of three languages (French, German or Italian). For 66% of its analog cable subscribers, Cablecom maintains billing relationships with landlords or housing associations, which typically provide analog cable service for an entire building and do not terminate service each time there is a change of tenant in the landlords or housing associations premises.
For its digital cable customers, Cablecom offers a digital cable package of 115 video channels and 100 radio channels (including the channels in its basic analog service) and a range of additional pay television programming in a variety of foreign language program packages and premium channel packages. A channel package includes general entertainment, sports, movies, adult and ethnic channels. Cablecoms 90 premium channels are available either in packages or for individual subscriptions. The digital cable packages include an electronic programming guide, the functionality for transaction-based VoD service (depending on location) and, since October 2009, catch-up television. Cablecom offers digital boxes with HD DVR functionality to its customers for an incremental monthly charge. It currently offers eight HD channels.
Cablecom offers eight tiers of broadband internet service with download speeds ranging from 250 Kbps to an ultra high-speed internet service of up to 100 Mbps, based on U.S. DOCSIS 3.0 technology. Cablecom launched its ultra high-speed internet service in September 2009 in Zurich and it is available to 30% of its two-way homes passed. Multi-feature telephony services are also available from Cablecom using VoIP. Cablecom offers a pre-paid and post-paid mobile service to all customers in Switzerland. Of Cablecoms total customers (excluding mobile customers), 16.8% are double-play customers and 15.4% are triple-play customers.
Cablecom offers digital video, broadband internet and fixed line telephony service directly to the analog cable subscribers of those partner networks that enter into service operating contracts with Cablecom. Cablecom has the direct customer billing relationship with the subscribers who take these services on the partner networks. By permitting Cablecom to offer some or all of its digital video, broadband internet and fixed line telephony products directly to those partner network subscribers, Cablecoms service operating contracts have expanded the addressable markets for Cablecoms digital products. In exchange for the right to provide digital products directly to the partner network subscribers, Cablecom pays to the partner network a share of the revenue generated from those subscribers. Cablecom also provides full or partial analog television signal delivery services, network maintenance services and engineering and construction services to its partner networks.
In addition, Cablecom offers a range of voice and broadband internet services to the Swiss business market throughout Switzerland.
Other Western Europe
The UPC Broadband Division also operates cable and DSL networks in Austria (excluding the Austrian portion of Cablecoms network) (UPC Austria) and cable networks in Ireland (UPC Ireland). The DSL services are provided over an unbundled loop or, in certain cases, over a shared access network. UPC Austrias DSL operations are available in the majority of Austria, wherever the incumbent telecommunications operator has implemented DSL technology. UPC Austrias entire cable network is upgraded to two-way capability and approximately 90% of its cable homes passed are served by a network with a bandwidth of at least 860 MHz. UPC Irelands cable network is 68% upgraded to two-way capability, and 61% of its cable homes passed are served by a network with a bandwidth of at least 550 MHz. For an incremental monthly charge, both operations offer their digital customers a digital box with DVR functionality and/or HD functionality. The number of HD channels offered are up to seven in Austria and 11 in Ireland. Also, a complete range of telecommunication services are offered to business customers by each of UPC Austria and UPC Ireland.
UPC Austria offers four tiers of broadband internet service over cable with download speeds ranging from eight Mbps to an ultra high-speed internet service of 100 Mbps, and a student package. UPC Austria launched its ultra high-speed internet service based on Euro DOCSIS 3.0 technology on its Vienna network in June 2009. This service is available to 76% of UPC Austrias two-way homes passed. Over DSL technology, UPC Austria offers two tiers of unbundled DSL broadband internet, plus additional tiers via wholesale offerings. It also offers a double-play package of broadband internet and telephony over DSL. Multi-feature telephony services are also available from UPC Austria. In addition, UPC Austria offers a bundle of fixed line and mobile telephony in a co-branding arrangement with a telephony operator. UPC Austria offers its telephony services through VoIP, which is available to all customers (DSL and cable). It also continues to offer telephony services through circuit-switched telephony. UPC Austria makes its digital video available to almost all of its homes passed and broadband internet and fixed line telephony services available to all of its homes passed. Of UPC Austrias total customers (excluding mobile customers), 24.7% are double-play customers and 24.8% are triple-play customers.
UPC Ireland offers five tiers of broadband internet service with download speeds ranging from one Mbps to 30 Mbps. UPC Ireland launched a higher speed internet service based on Euro DOCSIS 2.0 technology in January 2010 and plans to launch an ultra high-speed internet service based on Euro DOCSIS 3.0 technology in the second half of 2010. Multi-feature telephony services are also available from UPC Ireland through VoIP. UPC Ireland makes its digital video, broadband internet and fixed line telephony services available to 95%, 68% and 57%, respectively, of its homes passed. Of UPC Irelands total customers, 14.1% are double-play customers and 9.5% are triple-play customers.
Central and Eastern Europe
The UPC Broadband Division also operates cable networks in the Czech Republic (UPC Czech), Hungary (UPC Hungary), Poland (UPC Poland) and Romania (UPC Romania), and cable and MMDS networks in Slovakia (UPC Slovakia). In each of these operations, at least 84% of the cable networks are upgraded to two-way capability. Of the cable homes passed, at least 66% in Hungary and over 82% in the other Central and Eastern Europe operations are served by a network with a bandwidth of at least 750 MHz. In each of these cable operations, for an incremental monthly charge, digital cable customers may upgrade the digital box to one with DVR functionality and/or HD functionality. The number of HD channels offered range from five in Hungary to nine in the Czech Republic. VoD service is available to our subscribers in Budapest, Hungary and Warsaw, Poland. We will be expanding access to this service in 2010. The UPC Broadband Division also has DTH operations in certain of these countries, which it provides primarily through UPC Direct Programming II, BV (UPC Direct), a subsidiary of Liberty Global Europe.
Liberty Global Europes operations in Belgium are operated by Telenet. We indirectly own 50.5% of Telenets outstanding ordinary shares, which are held by an indirect subsidiary of Chellomedia. Telenet offers video, broadband internet and fixed and mobile telephony services in Belgium, primarily to residential customers in the Flanders region and the city of Brussels. Telenet makes all of these services, a quadruple-play, available to all of the homes passed by its cable network. In addition, pursuant to an agreement executed on June 28, 2008 (the PICs Agreement), with four associations of municipalities in Belgium (the pure intercommunales or PICs), Telenet makes its services available to all of the homes passed by the cable network owned by the PICs. Its cable networks and the PICs network are all upgraded to two-way capability and 97% of its cable homes passed are served by a network with a bandwidth of at least 550 MHz.
For its analog cable customers, Telenet offers a basic package of 26 video channels and 25 radio channels. For its digital cable subscribers, Telenet offers a basic package of digital programming service with 64 video channels and 33 radio channels (including channels from the basic analog package) and up to 10 packages of additional pay television programming based on interests. These packages include general entertainment, documentary, foreign language, kids, music, sports, adult and movies. The digital cable package includes an electronic programming guide, interactive services and the functionality for VoD service. Also, a customer has the option to upgrade the digital box to one with DVR functionality for an incremental monthly charge. Telenet also offers HD boxes and at least 14 HD channels, depending on the package selected and the region.
Telenet offers four tiers of broadband internet service with download speeds ranging from one Mbps to 25 Mbps. Telenet plans to launch ultra high-speed internet services based on Euro DOCSIS 3.0 technology in the first quarter of 2010. Telenet offers digital telephony services through VoIP and circuit-switched telephony, as well as value-added services. In addition, Telenet offers, individually and as a bundle, fixed line telephony services over its network and mobile telephony services as a mobile virtual network operator reselling leased network capacity. Of Telenets total customers (excluding mobile customers), 23.7% are double-play customers and 27.8% are triple-play customers.
Telenet also offers a range of voice and broadband internet services to business customers throughout Belgium and Luxembourg under the brand Telenet Solutions.
Telenet has the direct customer relationship with the analog and digital video subscribers on the PICs network. Pursuant to the PICs Agreement, Telenet has full rights to use substantially all of the PICs network under a long-term capital lease for a period of 38 years, for which it is required to pay recurring fees in addition to the fees paid under certain pre-existing agreements with the PICs. The PICs remain the legal owners of the PICs network. All capital expenditures associated with the PICs network will be initiated by Telenet, but executed and pre-financed by the PICs through an addition to the long-term capital lease, and will follow a 15-year reimbursement schedule. The PICs Agreement has the form of an emphyotic lease agreement, which under Belgian law is the legal form that is closest to ownership of a real estate asset without actually having the full legal ownership. Unless extended, the PICs Agreement will expire on September 23, 2046, and cannot be terminated earlier (except in the case of non-payment or bankruptcy of the lessee). For additional information on the provisions of the PICs Agreement, see note 4 to our consolidated financial statements included in Part II of this report.
Liberty Global Europes Chellomedia Division provides interactive digital products and services, produces and markets 35 thematic channels, operates a digital media center and manages our investments in various businesses in Europe. Below is a description of the business unit operations of our Chellomedia Division:
Chello Zone. Chellomedia produces and markets a number of widely distributed multi-territory thematic channels in 121 countries in 23 languages, either directly or through joint ventures with unrelated third parties, such as CBS Studios International and Scripps Networks Interactive Inc. These channels target the following genres: extreme sports and lifestyles (the Extreme Sports Channel), horror films (Zone Horror), real life stories (Zone Reality and CBS Reality), womens information and entertainment and drama (Zone Club, Zone Romantica and CBS Drama), action (CBS Action), science fiction and fantasy (Zone Fantasy), cooking (Food Network) and childrens pre-school (Jim Jam). Chellomedia also provides international drama series to China Central Television for transmission in China. In addition, Chellomedia has a channel representation business, which represents both wholly-owned and third-party channels across Europe.
Chello Benelux. Chellomedia owns and manages a premium sports channel (Sport 1 NL) and a premium movie channel (Film 1) in the Netherlands. Sport 1 NL has exclusive pay television rights for a variety of sports, but it is primarily football oriented. These exclusive pay television rights expire at various dates in 2012 and 2013. For Film 1, Chellomedia has exclusive pay television output deals with key Hollywood studios that expire at various dates through 2014. It also distributes Weer & Verkeer (Weather & Traffic Channel) to cable networks and satellite operators.
The channels originate from Chellomedias digital media center (DMC), located in Amsterdam. The DMC is a technologically advanced production facility that services the Chellomedia Division, the UPC Broadband Division and third-party clients with channel origination, post-production and satellite and fiber transmission. The DMC delivers high-quality, customized programming by integrating different video elements, languages (either in dubbed or sub-titled form) and special effects and then transmits the final product to various customers in numerous countries through affiliated and unaffiliated cable systems and DTH platforms.
Chello Central Europe. Chellomedia has a controlling 80% interest in a joint venture with an unrelated third party that owns the childrens channel Minimax and manages the sports channels Sport1 and Sport2. The programming on the sport channels varies by country, but is predominately football oriented. Chellomedia also owns the thematic channels Filmmuzeum (a Hungarian library film channel), TV Paprika (a cooking channel), Deko (a home and lifestyle channel), Spektrum (a documentary channel), Zone Club CCE (womens information and entertainment), Zone Europa CCE (art house basic movies), Zone Romantica CCE (entertainment) and Sport M. Sport1 and Minimax are distributed to the UPC Broadband Division and other broadband operators in principally Hungary, Czech Republic, Slovakia and Romania. Minimax is also distributed in Serbia and other Eastern
European countries. Filmmuzeum and Sport M are distributed to the UPC Broadband Division and other broadband operators in Hungary. TV Paprika, Sport2, Deko and Spektrum are distributed to the UPC Broadband Division and other broadband operators in Hungary, Czech Republic and Slovakia. TV Paprika is also distributed in Romania and Moldova. Zone Club CCE, Zone Europa CCE and Zone Romantica CCE are distributed in Hungary and Poland in addition to the distributions of such channels in other countries by our Chello Zone business unit. Chellomedia also operates At Media, an advertising sales representation business in Poland, the Czech Republic and Hungary, and Mojo Productions, a full service production facility for local and international channels in the region.
Chello Multicanal. Through its subsidiaries IPS C.V. and Multicanal S.L. (collectively, IPS), Chellomedia owns and manages a suite of 11 thematic channels carried on a number of major pay television platforms in Spain, Portugal and Portuguese speaking countries in Africa. IPS has five wholly-owned thematic channels (Canal Hollywood, Odisea, Sol Musica, Canal Cocina and Decasa), two joint venture channels with A&E Television Networks (Canal de Historia and The Biography Channel), and four joint venture channels for Portuguese speaking territories with Servicos de Telecomunicacóes e Multimédia SGPS SA doing business as Zon Multimédia (Canal Hollywood, Panda, Panda Biggs and Mov).
Our operations in Australia are conducted primarily through Austar in which we own a 55.0% indirect majority ownership interest. Through February 17, 2010, we also had operations in Japan, conducted primarily through Super Media and its then subsidiary J:COM.
Austar is Australias leading pay television service provider to regional and rural Australia and the capital cities of Hobart and Darwin. Austars pay television services are provided through DTH satellite. FOXTEL Management Pty Ltd. (Foxtel), the other main provider of pay television services in Australia, has leased space on the Optus C1 and D3 satellites. Austar and Foxtel have entered into an agreement pursuant to which Austar is able to use a portion of Foxtels leased satellite space to provide its DTH services. This agreement will expire in 2017. Foxtel manages the satellite platform on Austars behalf as part of such agreement.
Austars DTH service is available to 2.5 million households, which is approximately one-third of Australian homes. Austars territory covers all of Tasmania and the Northern Territory and the regional areas outside of the capital cities in South Australia, Victoria, New South Wales and Queensland. Austar does not provide DTH service to Western Australia. Foxtels service area is concentrated in metropolitan areas and covers the balance of the other two-thirds of Australian homes. Foxtel and Austar do not compete with each other, except in the Gold Coast area in Queensland.
For the base level service, a DTH subscriber receives 52 channels, including nine time shifted channels. Austars DTH service also offers over 100 premium channels, as well as NVoD, interactive services and DVR functionality. Austars channel offerings include movies, sports, lifestyle programs, childrens programs, documentaries, drama and news. The NVoD service is comprised of 26 channels, dedicated to recently released movies. The interactive services include Sports Active, Weather Active and SKY News Active, three game services and 30 digital radio channels. In November 2009, Austar launched its HD television service. For an incremental monthly charge, subscribers may upgrade to Austars HD service and receive one or more of 13 HD channels, depending on the package selected, in addition to Austars other channel offerings and FTA television channels. In addition to residential subscribers, Austar also provides its television services to commercial premises, including hotels, retailers and licensed venues.
Austar owns a 50% interest in XYZ Networks. XYZ Networks has an ownership interest in or distributes the following channels: Discovery Channel, Nickelodeon, Nick Jr., arena, The LifeStyle Channel, LifeStyle Food, LifeStyle You, Channel [v], [V]2 Hits, MAX, Country Music Channel and The Weather Channel. These channels are distributed throughout Australia. Austars partner in XYZ Networks is Foxtel. Through agreements with XYZ Networks and other programmers, Austar has a number of long-term and key exclusive programming agreements for its regional territory expiring at various dates through 2020.
In addition, Austar offers mobile telephony services through a reseller agreement. Since 2000, Austar has owned significant holdings of the 2.3 GHz and 3.5 GHz spectrum bands throughout its regional territory. These bands are ideally suited for Worldwide Interoperability for Microwave Access (WiMax) based telecommunications services. Austar operates two trial markets for broadband internet services over a WiMax network using Austars spectrum. Although it has no current plans to expand the WiMax network further, Austar continues to explore spectrum opportunities.
Jupiter Telecommunications Co., Ltd.
J:COM is the largest multiple-system operator (MSO) in Japan, as measured by the total number of homes passed and customers. J:COMs operations are primarily clustered around three metropolitan areas of Japan, consisting of the Kanto region (which includes Tokyo), the Kansai region (which includes Osaka, Kobe and Kyoto) and the Kyushu region (which includes Fukuoka and Kita-Kyushu). In addition, J:COM owns cable operations in the Sendai and Sapporo areas of Japan that are not part of a cluster. All of J:COMs cable networks are upgraded to two-way capability, with all of its cable homes passed served by a system with a bandwidth of at least 750 MHz. J:COM makes its digital video and broadband internet services available to all of its homes passed and its fixed line telephony services available to 96% of its homes passed. Of its total customers (excluding mobile customers), approximately 28.0% are double-play customers and approximately 26.8% are triple-play customers.
For its analog cable customers, J:COM offers an analog programming service of approximately 45 channels of cable programming and analog terrestrial broadcasting and broadcast satellite channels, not including premium services. For its digital cable subscribers, J:COM offers two digital programming services with 54 and 66 channels, respectively, (including channels from its analog service) of cable programming, digital terrestrial broadcasting, and broadcast satellite channels, not including radio and data (news and weather forecasts) channels and premium services. The channel line-up for the digital service includes approximately 30 HD channels. Programming for both analog and digital services includes movies, dramas, sports, animations, news and general entertainment. J:COM provides its digital cable subscribers VoD and pay-per-view functionality, allowing those subscribers, generally for an additional charge, to receive programming that is not available to J:COMs analog cable subscribers. For an incremental monthly charge, digital cable subscribers may also receive a digital set-top box with HD DVR functionality. For new cable subscribers, J:COM offers only the digital programming service.
For an additional charge, J:COM offers both its analog and digital subscribers subscriptions to premium channels, including movies, sports, animation and other special entertainment programming, either individually or in packages. In addition to the services offered to its cable television subscribers, J:COM also provides terrestrial broadcast retransmission services to more than 5.8 million additional households within its area as of December 31,
2009, including compensation households for which J:COM receives up-front fees pursuant to long-term contracts to provide such retransmission services. J:COM does not count such additional households as customers or RGUs.
J:COM offers seven tiers of broadband internet services. These broadband internet services offer download speeds ranging from 256 Kbps to an ultra high-speed internet service of up to 160 Mbps. The ultra high-speed internet service, branded J:COM Net Ultra 160M Course, is based on DOCSIS 3.0 technology. The J:COM NET Ultra 160M Course is available to 97% of J:COMs homes passed.
Multi-feature telephony services are also available from J:COM through circuit-switched telephony and, in certain areas, VoIP. In partnership with WILLCOM, Inc., a personal handphone system service provider in Japan, J:COM also offers a mobile phone service called J:COM MOBILE. J:COM MOBILE customers receive discounted phone service when bundled with J:COMs other telephony service, including free and discounted calling plans.
J:COM sources its programming through multiple suppliers, including its programming division Jupiter TV. Through Jupiter TV, J:COM develops, manages and distributes pay television services in Japan on a platform-neutral basis through various distribution infrastructures, principally cable and DTH service providers, and more recently, alternative broadband service providers using fiber-to-the-home (FTTH) and ADSL platforms. As of December 31, 2009, J:COM owned nine channels through wholly- or majority-owned subsidiaries and had investments ranging from 10% to 50% in eight additional channels. J:COM provides affiliate sales services and in some cases advertising sales and other services to channels in which it has an investment for a fee.
Our interest in J:COM was held primarily through Super Media, an entity owned 58.7% by us and 41.3% by Sumitomo at December 31, 2009. We and Sumitomo also each owned an additional 3.7% of J:COMs shares outside of Super Media. In October 2009, at Sumitomos request, Super Media was converted from a limited liability company to a limited partnership. One of our subsidiaries was the sole general partner and a limited partner of Super Media and another of our subsidiaries and Sumitomo were also limited partners. On February 17, 2010, Sumitomos interest in Super Media was redeemed for the J:COM shares attributable to such interest.
Prior to the redemption of Sumitomos interest in Super Media, we indirectly controlled J:COM through our control of Super Media, which owned a controlling interest in J:COM, and we therefore consolidated J:COMs results of operations for financial reporting purposes.
Our operations in the Americas are conducted primarily through our 80% owned subsidiary VTR in Chile and our wholly-owned subsidiary Liberty Puerto Rico. We also have a joint venture interest in MGM Networks Latin America and a subsidiary in Argentina, both of which offer programming content to the Latin America market. On January 20, 2010, our partner in VTR, Cristalerías de Chile SA (Cristalerías), sold its 20% interest in VTR to Corp Rec SA (Corp Rec). In connection with such sale, we and Cristalerías terminated Cristalerías put right along with various other agreements concerning VTR. We also entered into a shareholders agreement with our new partner in VTR, Corp Rec.
VTR provides video, broadband internet and fixed telephony services in 56 cities, including Santiago, Chiles largest city, the large regional cities of Iquique, Antofagasta, Concepción, Viña del Mar, Valparaiso and Rancagua, and smaller cities across Chile. VTR is Chiles largest multi-channel television provider in terms of number of subscribers, and a leading provider of broadband internet and residential telephony services. VTRs cable network is 75% upgraded to two-way capability and 81% of cable homes passed are served by a network with a bandwidth of at least 750 MHz. VTR makes its digital video, broadband internet and fixed line telephony services available to 85%, 75% and 75%, respectively, of its homes passed.
VTRs analog service is offered only in areas where its digital service is not available. For its analog cable customers, VTR offers two tiers of analog programming service: an entry tier analog service with up to 48 video channels and a full tier analog service with up to 68 channels. For an additional monthly charge, analog subscribers may receive up to 12 premium channels. VTR obtains programming from the United States, Europe, Argentina and Mexico. There is also domestic cable programming in Chile, based on local events such as football matches and regional content. For its digital cable customers, VTR offers three digital cable packages. Its entry tier digital service includes 30 video channels and 40 radio channels. Its intermediate tier digital service includes up to 67 video channels and 40 radio channels (including channels in its entry tier analog service). For an additional monthly charge, a digital subscriber may upgrade to the full tier subscription with up to 91 video channels (including the channels in its full tier analog service) and 40 radio channels. All digital cable packages include an electronic programming guide, the functionality for VoD service and pay-per-view options. For an additional monthly charge, VTR offers digital boxes with DVR functionality and HD functionality. VTR currently offers six HD channels. Digital customers may also subscribe to premium services, which include movies, sports, kids, international and adult channels.
VTR offers four tiers of broadband internet services with download speeds ranging from one Mbps to 15 Mbps in 31 communities within Santiago and 35 communities outside Santiago. VTR also offers multi-feature telephony service over its cable network to customers in 31 communities within Santiago and 35 communities outside Santiago via either circuit-switched telephony or VoIP, depending on location. Of VTRs total customers, 21.7% are double-play customers and 42.4% are triple-play customers.
VTR offers a range of voice and broadband internet services to SOHO customers in its core communities within Santiago and its core metropolitan networks outside of Santiago.
In December 2005, the Subsecretary of Telecommunications awarded VTR regional concessions for wireless fixed telephony service in the frequency band of 3400-3600 MHz. Using this spectrum, VTR offers broadband telephony and internet services through WiMax technology in parts of Santiago. WiMax is a wireless alternative to cable and DSL for the last mile of broadband access. WiMax potential coverage is approximately 1.3 million homes with approximately 540,000 two-way homes passed.
In September 2009, the Subsecretary of Telecommunications awarded VTR one of three 3G mobile licenses following a public auction process. Pursuant to such award, VTR purchased the license in November 2009 for CLP 1,669.0 million ($3.3 million) and delivered a CLP 35.6 billion ($70.2 million) performance bond to guarantee the timely buildout of the project. Such buildout will entail both the construction of new towers and the modification of existing towers for a total deployment of approximately 180 telecommunication towers in different areas of Chile. The definitive granting of the 3G license to VTR is still subject to the rejection of certain oppositions filed against such grant. If the concession is granted, the buildout must be completed within one year of the date the license decree is published, which is expected in 2010. The term 3G refers to a set of mobile technologies that allow mobile telephony providers to offer, among other things, higher-speed internet access, data and video services.
VTR is subject to certain regulatory conditions as a result of the combination with Metrópolis Intercom SA in April 2005. The most significant conditions require that the combined entity (1) re-sell broadband capacity to third-party internet service providers on a wholesale basis; and (2) activate two-way service to two million homes passed within five years from the consummation date of the combination. VTR expects to satisfy the two-way service condition as required. For three years after the consummation date of the combination, the combined entity was also required to limit basic tier price increases to the rate of inflation, plus a programming cost escalator. This condition expired in May 2008. Another condition expressly prohibits us, as the controlling shareholder of VTR, from owning an interest, directly or indirectly through related parties, in any company that provides microwave or satellite television services in Chile. The DirecTV Group, Inc. (DirecTV) owns a satellite television distribution service that operates in Chile and elsewhere in the Americas. On December 12, 2006, Liberty Media Corporation (Liberty Media) announced publicly that it had agreed to acquire an approximate 39% interest in DirecTV. On August 1, 2007, VTR received formal written notice from the Chilean Federal Economic Prosecutor (FNE) stating that Liberty Medias acquisition of the DirecTV interest would violate the regulatory condition prohibiting us from owning an
interest in Chilean satellite or microwave television businesses. On March 19, 2008, following the closing of Liberty Medias investment in DirecTV, the FNE commenced an action before the Chilean Antitrust Court against John C. Malone, the chairman of our board of directors and of Liberty Medias board of directors. In this action, the FNE alleges that Mr. Malone is a controller of VTR and either controls or indirectly participates in DirecTVs satellite operations in Chile, thus violating the condition. The FNE requested the Antitrust Court to impose a fine on Mr. Malone and order him to effect the transfer of the shares, interests or other assets that are necessary to restore the independence, in ownership and administration, of VTR and DirecTV. We currently are unable to predict the outcome of this matter or its impact on VTR.
Video distribution, internet, telephony and content businesses are regulated in each of the countries in which we operate. The scope of regulation varies from country to country. In some significant respects, however, regulation in European markets, with the exception of Switzerland, is harmonized under the regulatory structure of the European Union (EU).
Adverse regulatory developments could subject our businesses to a number of risks. Regulation could limit growth, revenue and the number and types of services offered and could lead to increased operating costs and capital expenditures. In addition, regulation may restrict our operations and subject them to further competitive pressure, including pricing restrictions, interconnect and other access obligations, and restrictions or controls on content. Failure to comply with current or future regulation could expose our businesses to penalties.
Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and the United Kingdom are the Member States of the EU. As such, these countries are required to harmonize certain of their laws with certain EU rules. In addition, other EU rules are directly enforceable in those countries. Certain EU rules are also applicable across the European Economic Area, whose Member States are the EU Member States as well as Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway.
In the broadcasting and communications sectors, there has been extensive EU-level legislative action. As a result, most of the markets in Europe in which our businesses operate have been significantly affected by the regulatory framework that has been developed by the EU. The exception to this is Switzerland, which is not a Member State of the EU or the European Economic Area and is currently not seeking any such membership. Regulation in Switzerland is discussed separately below, as well as regulation in certain Member States in which we face regulatory issues that may have a material impact on our business in that country.
EU Communications Regulation
The body of EU law that deals with communications regulation consists of a variety of legal instruments and policies (collectively referred to as the EU Communications Regulatory Framework or Regulatory Framework). The key elements of the Regulatory Framework are various Directives that require Member States to harmonize their laws, as well as certain regulations that have effect without any national transposition.
The Regulatory Framework primarily seeks to open European markets for communications services. It harmonizes the rules for the establishment and operation of electronic communications networks, including cable television and traditional telephony networks, and the offer of electronic communications services, such as telephony, internet and, to some degree, television services. The Regulatory Framework does not generally address issues of content.
On November 24, 2009, the European Parliament and the European Council completed the process of agreeing on a set of revisions to the Regulatory Framework after a lengthy revision process. The revisions to the Regulatory Framework must be transposed in the Member States before June 19, 2011.
Generally, the changes to the Regulatory Framework are limited, but will affect us. Some changes are institutional. For example, a new body of European regulators is expected to be created in early 2010. Some new powers, however, will be given to national regulators. For example, the national regulators will have rights to mandate access to ducts even without Significant Market Power findings. This could lead to us being required to open our ducts to competitors and could mean that we are not able to make use of all capacity in our ducts for our own needs, or that we can get access to ducts of third parties instead of building our own ducts. Also, there will be enhanced powers for Member States to impose quality of service requirements on internet service providers (ISPs), which may restrict our flexibility in respect of our broadband services.
In general, pending the adoption and the transposition by the Member States of the new Directives, the existing legal situation is unchanged.
Certain key provisions included in the current Regulatory Framework are set forth below. This description is not intended to be a comprehensive description of all regulation in this area.
Licensing and Exclusivity. The Regulatory Framework requires Member States to abolish exclusivities on communication networks and services in their territory and allow operators into their markets based on a simple registration. The Regulatory Framework sets forth an exhaustive list of conditions that may be imposed on communication networks and services. Possible obligations include, among other things, financial charges for universal service or for the costs of regulation, environmental requirements, data privacy and other consumer protection rules, must carry obligations, provision of customer information to law enforcement agencies and access obligations.
Significant Market Power. Certain of the obligations allowed by the Regulatory Framework apply only to operators or service providers with Significant Market Power in a relevant market. For example, the provisions of the Access Directive allow EU Member States to mandate certain access obligations only for those operators and service providers that are deemed to have Significant Market Power. For purposes of the Regulatory Framework, an operator or service provider will be deemed to have Significant Market Power where, either individually or jointly with others, it enjoys a position of significant economic strength affording it the power to behave to an appreciable extent independently of competitors, customers and consumers.
As part of the implementation of certain provisions of the Regulatory Framework, each Member States National Regulatory Authority (NRA), is required to analyze certain markets predefined by the EU Commission to determine if any operator or service provider has Significant Market Power. Until November 2007, there were 18 such markets but on November 13, 2007, the EU Commission adopted a new recommendation reducing the list of markets to seven. Such markets are referred to as the predefined markets. The effect of the new recommendation is that those Member States who had not analyzed one of the deleted markets or who had analyzed such a market and found no Significant Market Power are no longer required to carry out any analysis in that market. Member States who have analyzed one of the deleted markets and found Significant Market Power will have to re-analyze that market and, if they still find Significant Market Power, notify the EU Commission of the finding of Significant Market Power outside the seven predefined markets. Pending such re-analysis, the prior finding of Significant Market Power will remain in effect until the end of its duration (typically for three years). There is no specific timetable for such re-analysis, although the EU Commission may pressure Member States if it sees them as being slow in performing market analyses.
We have been found to have Significant Market Power in certain markets in which we operate and further findings are possible. In particular, in those markets where we offer telephony services, we have been found to have Significant Market Power in the termination of calls on our own network. In addition, UPC Netherlands has been found to have Significant Market Power in the market for wholesale broadcasting transmission services (which is no longer a pre-defined market) in the Netherlands as described below.
NRAs might seek to define us as having Significant Market Power in any of the seven predefined markets or they may define and analyze additional markets. In the event that we are found to have Significant Market Power in any particular market, a NRA could impose certain conditions on us. Under the Regulatory Framework, the EU Commission has the power to veto a finding by an NRA of Significant Market Power (or the absence thereof) in any market whether or not it is included in the seven predefined markets.
Video Services. The distribution, but not the content, of television services to the public is harmonized by the Regulatory Framework. Member States are allowed to impose reasonable must carry obligations for the transmission of specified radio and television broadcast channels on certain operators under their jurisdiction. Such obligations should be based on clearly defined general interest objectives, be proportionate and transparent and be subject to periodic review. We are subject to some degree of must carry regulation in all European markets in which we operate. In some cases, these obligations go beyond what we believe is allowable under the Regulatory Framework. To date, however, the EU Commission has taken very limited steps to enforce EU law in this area, leaving intact must carry obligations that are in excess of what we believe to be allowed. Moreover, on December 22, 2008, the European Court of Justice took a very narrow view of the restriction on must carry under the Regulatory Framework, treating it as a procedural formality. Therefore, it is unlikely that there will be any reduction in the must carry regulations in the foreseeable future.
EU Broadcasting Law
Although the distribution of video channels by a cable operator is within the scope of the Regulatory Framework, the activities of a broadcaster are harmonized by other elements of EU law, in particular the Audiovisual Media Services Directive (AVMS). AVMS, which was adopted on December 11, 2007, amended the EUs existing Television Without Frontiers Directive (TVWF) with the whole Directive now being renamed as AVMS. Member States were to have transposed the requirements of AVMS into national law by December 19, 2009. Not all have completed such transposition. It is not clear what practical effect this will have on us. Pending accurate transposition, there can be no assurance that the requirements on VoD will, in fact, operate in the manner described below in any individual Member State. As a result, we may face inconsistent and uncertain regulation of our VoD service in Europe.
Generally, broadcasts originating in and intended for reception within an EU Member State must respect the laws of that Member State. Pursuant to both AVMS and TVWF, however, EU Member States are required to allow broadcast signals of broadcasters established in another EU Member State to be freely transmitted within their territory so long as the broadcaster complies with the law of their home state. This is referred to as the country of origin principle.
In respect of channels originating in many European countries, The European Convention on Transfrontier Television extends the country of origin principle beyond the EUs borders into certain other European territories into which we sell our channels, including Switzerland. The Convention is an instrument of the Council of Europe, with 47 member countries, including the 27 EU Member States, and is quite similar to TVWF in its aims of free movement of channels, although it only achieves that with member countries that have ratified its text and not all have so ratified. The Council of Europe is currently considering modifying the Convention along the lines of AVMS but there can be no assurance as to what the outcome of this will be.
Both TVWF and AVMS establish quotas for the transmission of European-produced programming and programs made by European producers who are independent of broadcasters. From our perspective, the key difference between AVMS and TVWF is that the former extends the scope of EU broadcasting regulation and its country of origin principle to certain on-demand television-like services such as VoD. Accordingly, we should be able, if we choose to do so to offer our own VoD services across the European Economic Area based on the regulation of the country of origin. Thus, it is possible to structure our business to have a single regulatory regime for all of our VoD services offered in Europe. In addition, when we offer third party VoD services on our network, it should be the business of the third party, in its capacity as provider of the services, and not us as the local distributor, that is regulated in respect of these services.
Other European Level Regulation
In addition to the industry-specific regimes discussed above, our European operating companies must comply with both specific and general legislation concerning, among other matters, data protection, data retention and electronic commerce.
They are also subject to both national and European level regulations on competition and on consumer protection, which are broadly harmonized at the EU level. For example, while our operating companies may offer their services in bundled packages in European markets, they are sometimes not permitted to make a subscription to one service, such as cable television, conditional upon a subscription to another service, such as telephony. They may also face restrictions on the degree to which they may discount certain products included in the bundled packages.
Currently the telecommunications equipment we provide our customers, such as digital set-top boxes is not subject to regulation regarding energy consumption in the EU, except as discussed below. The EU Commission is, however, considering the need for mandatory requirements regarding energy consumption of such equipment. We have been participating in discussions and studies regarding energy consumption with various parts of the EU Commission and with experts working on their behalf. In addition, we are working with suppliers of our digital set-top boxes to lower power consumption, as well as looking at possibilities through software to lower the power consumption of the existing fleet of digital set-top boxes. Finally, we are working with a large group of companies to promote the possibility of a voluntary agreement on set-top box power consumption as an alternative to regulation. Nevertheless, legislation in this area may be adopted in the near future and could adversely affect the cost and/or the functionality of equipment we deploy in customer homes.
In addition, pursuant to an EU regulation on standby power effective January 7, 2010, many devices, including cable modems, are required to have either a low power standby mode or off mode unless it is inappropriate to have both such modes on the device. It is likely that this regulation can be satisfied by placing an off switch on these devices. It is unclear whether or not our set-top boxes are subject to this requirement. We continue to explore with Member States and suppliers how this regulation will affect our products. It is possible that this regulation could result in an increase in our costs of procurement for some items.
The Netherlands has an electronic communications law that broadly transposes the Regulatory Framework. According to this electronic communications law, Onafhankelijke Post en Telecommunicatie Autoriteit (OPTA), the Netherlands NRA, should perform the market analysis to determine which, if any, operator or service provider has Significant Market Power. OPTA has completed its first and second round of market analysis.
All providers of call termination on fixed networks in the Netherlands have been found to have Significant Market Power. As a result, UPC Netherlands is subject to obligations regarding access, transparency, non-discrimination and tariff regulation. In December 2008, OPTA completed further market analyses, resulting in a new decision on call termination for UPC Netherlands. This decision became effective January 1, 2009, requiring UPC Netherlands to reduce its call termination rates. UPC Netherlands filed an appeal with College van Beroepvoor het bedrijfsleven (CBb), the Dutch Supreme Administrative Court, which is still pending.
With respect to television services, a new market analysis decision on broadcast became effective on March 17, 2009. This decision found UPC Netherlands, as well as other cable operators, to have Significant Market Power in the market for wholesale broadcasting transmission services and imposed new obligations. We filed an appeal against the decision on April 15, 2009, with CBb. Pending the outcome of this appeal, UPC Netherlands will be required to comply with the decision. The appeal hearing is scheduled for March 18, 2010. A decision of the CBb is not expected before the end of 2010.
The new market analysis decision imposes on the four largest cable operators in the Netherlands a number of access obligations in respect of television services. The two largest cable operators, including UPC Netherlands, have a number of additional access obligations. The access obligations imposed on UPC Netherlands consist of (1) access to capacity for the transmission of the television signal (both analog and digital); (2) resale of the analog television signal and, in conjunction with any such resale, the provision of customer connection; and (3) access to UPC Netherlands digital conditional access system, including access to its operational supporting systems and co-location. OPTA has stated that any operator with its own infrastructure, such as Royal KPN NV, the incumbent telecommunications operator in the Netherlands (KPN), will not be allowed to resell the analog television signal or avail itself of access to UPC Netherlands digital platform.
The resale obligation will enable third parties to take over the customer relationship as far as the analog television signal is concerned. Potential resellers will need to negotiate the relevant copyrights directly with program providers in order to resell the identical or almost identical analog television signals. In case of non-identical resale, the decision imposes a number of preconditions, including that the reseller must bear the costs of filtering and that OPTA will determine the reasonableness of such request on a case by case basis.
In respect of transmission of the analog television signal, a number of preconditions were established to ensure that such transmission will not cause unreasonable use of scarce capacity. A request for transmission of analog signals that are not included in UPC Netherlands analog television package, as well as parallel transmission of analog signals that are already part of the analog package, will in principle be deemed unreasonable.
Regarding digital, the new market analysis decision requires UPC Netherlands to enable providers of digital television signals to supply their digital signals using their own or UPC Netherlands digital conditional access system. This allows the third parties to have their own customer relationship for those digital television signals and to bundle their offer with the resale of the analog television signal.
Pricing of the wholesale offer for analog and digital transmission capacity will be at cost-oriented prices. Pricing of the wholesale offer for resale of the analog package, including access to UPC Netherlands transmission platform for purposes of resale, will be based on a discount to UPC Netherlands retail rates, at a level to be determined by OPTA and, if no retail offer of UPC Netherlands is available, on a cost-oriented basis. Both access obligations come with the obligation to provide access to the relevant network elements and facilities, including set-top boxes, co-location, software systems and operational supporting systems, at cost-oriented prices if no relevant retail tariff is available to define the retail minus tariff.
UPC Netherlands was required to develop cost models for both the wholesale offer for analog resale as well as digital transmission capacity. OPTA reviewed the cost model-resale and published a draft tariff decision on November 26, 2009. The draft tariff decision was subject to national consultation and European Commission notification. UPC Netherlands submitted comments to the draft decision on January 7, 2010. The review of the cost model-digital transmission capacity has been postponed by OPTA.
UPC Netherlands was also required to publish reference offers regarding the wholesale offer for analog resale as well as digital transmission capacity. UPC Netherlands published the reference offer-resale on May 18, 2009, and the reference offer-digital transmission capacity on November 2, 2009. In respect of the reference offer-resale, OPTA published a draft implementation decision on October 30, 2009. The draft implementation decision was subject to national consultation and European Commission notification. The European Commission issued comments on December 14, 2009, which OPTA should take into account in the final decision. UPC Netherlands also submitted comments to the draft decision. OPTA initiated Industry Group meetings with respect to the reference offer-digital transmission capacity, which commenced at the end of November 2009 and are ongoing. Furthermore, UPC Netherlands will not be allowed to discriminate between third parties and its own retail business in making these services available. This includes, for example, a prohibition on offering loyalty discounts to its own customers.
OPTAs final tariff decision on analog resale is expected to be issued during the first quarter of 2010. The decision, besides being subject to appeal, may be subject to interim proceedings and possible postponement. UPC Netherlands is expected to be required to begin offering its analog cable package (together with the requested access) to resellers during the second quarter of 2010.
The Netherlands transposed the AVMS directive in the Media Act on December 18, 2009.
Switzerland has a regulatory system which partially reflects the principles of the EU, but otherwise is distinct from the European regulatory system of telecommunications. The Telecommunications Act (Fernmeldegesetz) regulates, in general, the transmission of information, including the transmission of radio and television signals. Most aspects of the distribution of radio and television, however, are regulated under the Radio and Television Act (Radio und Fernsehgesetz). In addition, the Competition Act and the Act on Price Surveillance are potentially relevant to our business. With respect to energy consumption of electronic home devices, the Energy Act and the revised Energy Ordinance have been applicable since January 2010, to television set-top boxes as described below.
Under the Telecommunications Act, any provider of telecommunications services needs to register with the Federal Office of Communications (OfCom). Dominant providers have to grant access to third parties, including unbundled access to the local loop and, for four years from April 1, 2007, bitstream access. But this access regulation is restricted to the copper wire network of the incumbent, Swisscom AG (Swisscom). Therefore, such unbundling obligations do not apply to Cablecom and other cable operators. Also, any dominant provider has to grant access to its ducts, subject to sufficient capacity being available in the relevant duct. At this time, only Swisscom has been determined to be dominant in this regard. All operators are obliged to provide interconnection and have to ensure interoperability of services.
In 2008, Swisscom announced its intention to roll out a national FTTH network in Switzerland. Whether this will require legislative action on regulating access to such new network by third parties is under discussion. In addition, several municipality-owned utility companies have announced or started to roll out local fiber networks. As no general state aid regulation exists in Switzerland, such initiatives could only be deemed illegal if a clear case of cross subsidization could be made. Any such fiber roll out could lead to increased competition for Cablecom.
Under the Radio and Television Act and the corresponding ordinance, cable network operators are obliged to distribute certain programs that contribute in a particular manner to media diversity (must carry programs). The Federal government and OfCom can select up to 25 programs that have to be distributed in analog without the cable operator being entitled to compensation. Currently 17 programs have must carry status.
Encryption of Cablecoms digital offering and its exclusive offering of proprietary set-top boxes are permissible under the Radio and Television Act. There is, however, an initiative, adopted by the Swiss Parliament in June 2009, which demands (1) a ban on encryption of the digital basic offering or, alternatively, (2) the introduction of a conditional access module. In order to implement this initiative, OfCom is preparing a draft for the necessary modification of the Radio and Television Act. The parliamentary debate of the amendment is expected to start at the earliest in April 2010. The amended Act will not, however, become effective before 2012.
Regarding the energy consumption of set-top boxes, the Swiss Federal government has adopted a revision of the Energy Ordinance. According to the amended legislation, as of January 1, 2010, set-top boxes would need to comply with specified power limits and non-compliant boxes could no longer be used in Switzerland. Although non-compliant boxes already in use by end customers will not have to be exchanged, Cablecom will not be allowed to import or sell any non-compliant boxes after January 1, 2010. HD boxes are exempt from this regulation.
In the past, Cablecoms retail customer prices have been subject to review by the Swiss Price Regulator. As of 2007, Cablecom is no longer subject to an agreement with the Swiss Price Regulator. The Swiss Price Regulator has, however, defined certain criteria regarding Cablecoms products and prices. As long as Cablecom respects
those criteria, no further regulatory action is expected to be taken by the Swiss Price Regulator. Whether Cablecom will continue to be subject to price regulation going forward will depend on the assessment of its market position going forward.
Central and Eastern Europe
In contrast to the majority of our European operations, a large part of our cable network in Romania is above ground, as are the networks of most other utility providers, including other cable operators. For aesthetic and environmental reasons, cities in Romania want these companies, including UPC Romania, to move their networks underground. The issue has become most pressing in Bucharest, where the city council issued a decision requiring all existing networks to be placed underground within a period of years and engaged a single privately-owned company, NetCity Telecom SA, to build an underground duct and optical fiber network in that city (the NetCity Project). Legal challenges in Romania to the NetCity Project have so far been unsuccessful. In 2009 the first stage of the network was completed under five major streets in Bucharest and we have moved part of our network into this completed portion of the NetCity Project. Although we made such move, we are in discussions with NetCity Telecom SA on limiting future network moves. As a result, we are unable to assess the impact the next stages of the NetCity Project will have on the operations of UPC Romania. With the deployment of the first stage of the NetCity Project, we anticipate the pressure to move aerial networks underground to continue to grow in both Bucharest and elsewhere in Romania, such as the city of Cluj Napoca. Ultimately, we expect that this will lead to an increase in network costs for our Romanian operations and, possibly, a decrease in operational flexibility.
Belgium has broadly transposed the Regulatory Framework into law. According to the electronic communications law of June 13, 2005, the Belgisch Instituut voor Post en Telecommunicatie (BIPT), the Belgian NRA, should perform the market analysis to determine which, if any, operator or service provider has Significant Market Power. BIPT has completed its first round of market analysis on most of the predefined markets and has initiated, for the majority of predefined markets, a second round of analysis. In its market analysis, BIPT did not address the wholesale broadcast market, which is no longer a predefined market.
Telenet has been declared an operator with Significant Market Power on the market for call termination on an individual fixed public telephone network. With respect to the market for call termination on individual fixed networks, an on-going three year reduction of termination rates was imposed on Telenet beginning January 1, 2007. The final rate reduction in January 2009 resulted in near reciprocal termination tariffs (Telenet charges the interconnection rate of the incumbent telecommunications operator, Belgacom NV/SA (Belgacom), plus 15%).
In Belgium, both the BIPT and the regional media regulators (Vlaamse Media Regulator (Flanders), Conseil Supérieur de lAudiovisuel (Wallonia), and Medienrat (in the German speaking community)) have to approve the wholesale broadband market analysis. The first round of decision regarding this market was issued on January 10, 2008. Belgacom was declared to have Significant Market Power on this market and cable networks were left out of the analysis. Due to market and technological developments, the second round of analysis for this market is expected to be launched by the BIPT during the first quarter of 2010.
With regard to the transposition of AVMS, a decree has been adopted by the Flemish Parliament in March 2009. Because VoD services were already regulated by Belgium media law, especially in Flanders, the transposition of AVMS has not caused a significant change in the regulation of VoD services.
Overview. Subscription television, internet and broadband access and mobile telephony services are regulated in Australia by a number of Australian Commonwealth statutes. In addition, state and territory laws, including environmental and consumer protection legislation, influence aspects of Austars business.
Broadly speaking, the regulatory framework in Australia distinguishes between the regulation of content services and the regulation of facilities used to transmit those services. The Australian Broadcasting Services Act 1992 (Cth) (BSA) regulates the ownership and operation of all categories of television and radio services in Australia and also aspects of internet and mobile content. The technical delivery of Austar services are separately licensed under the Radiocommunications Act 1992 (Cth) (Radiocommunications Act) or the Telecommunications Act 1997 (Cth) (Telecommunications Act), depending on the delivery technology utilized. Other legislation of key relevance to Austar is the Trade Practices Act 1974 (Cth), and state fair trading laws, which include competition and consumer protection regulation, and the Privacy Act 1988 (Cth).
Licensing of Television Broadcasting. The BSA regulates subscription television broadcasting services through a licensing regime managed by the Australian Communications and Media Authority (Media Authority). Austar and its related companies hold subscription television broadcasting licenses under the BSA. These licenses are for an indefinite period and are issued subject to general license conditions, which may be revoked or varied by the Australian Government and which may include specific additional conditions. License conditions include a prohibition on cigarette or other tobacco advertising; a requirement that subscription fees must be the predominant source of revenue for the service (over, for example, advertising); a requirement that the licensee must remain a suitable licensee under the BSA; a requirement that customers must have the option to rent domestic reception equipment; and a requirement to comply with provisions relating to anti-siphoning (as described below) and the broadcast of R-rated material. An additional obligation on subscription television licensees, who provide a service predominantly devoted to drama programs, is to spend at least 10% of their annual program expenditure on new Australian drama programs. Austar makes the required investments in such programming.
Sports Rights Regulation Anti-siphoning. The BSA prohibits subscription television broadcasting licensees from obtaining exclusive rights to certain events that the Australian Government considers should be freely available to the public. These events, which are specified on an anti-siphoning list, include a number of highly popular sporting events in Australia and are currently protected until December 31, 2010. The Australian Government is currently reviewing the operation and the content of the anti-siphoning scheme. A decision from the Australian Government on the future of the anti-siphoning list is expected in early 2010.
Digital Switchover. The Australian Government has confirmed that the switch off of analog broadcasting will be complete by the end of 2013. The Australian Government will implement a staggered region by region approach to the analog switch off. As currently proposed, Austars regional markets will be switched earlier than the metropolitan markets, starting in 2010 and finishing by the end of 2013. Currently, the Australian Government has not clarified whether subscription television subscribers with access to digital FTA channels will be counted in the penetration of digital ready households. Austar has, however, an agreement in principal with the Australian Government that Austars hybrid satellite and digital FTA box will be presented as a valid option for consumers to convert to digital television in Austars service areas and included in the penetration of digital ready households. The legislation also revises the dates for two statutory reviews (previously triggered by the end of analog switch off): (1) January 1, 2010: a review of the content and captioning rules applicable to FTA multi-channels; and (2) January 1, 2012: a review of the decision to implement a new commercial television network. Currently, FTA multi-channels are not required to provide minimum levels of Australian content or caption a minimum number of hours. This is currently under review by the Australian Government, although increased regulation on new and emerging FTA channels is thought unlikely.
FTA Multi-channeling. The FTA commercial networks were entitled to provide one SD multi-channel from January 1, 2009. Each network currently broadcasts one HD multi-channel. Except for the anti-siphoning list restrictions (FTA networks are currently not entitled to broadcast listed events on their multi-channels), there are currently no content or captioning obligations on the FTA multi-channels. This, however, is currently being reviewed by the Australian Government.
Foreign Media Ownership and Cross Media Ownership. Foreign media ownership rules in Australia have been relaxed although media has been retained as a sensitive sector and foreign investment in the media sector remains subject to the approval of the Treasurer of the Commonwealth of Australia. Cross media ownership rules
provide that an operator may own two of three types of media assets (newspapers, television and radio) in a market, subject to there being at least five commercial media groups in metropolitan markets and four commercial media groups in regional markets.
Energy Efficiency. Mandatory limits on the emission levels of basic set-top boxes (excluding DVRs) sold in Australia came into effect on December 1, 2008. Austar has been in discussions with the Australian Government and Foxtel to implement a voluntary scheme (Code) to reduce the energy consumption of complex set-top boxes in the subscription television industry. The Code was signed by Austar and Foxtel in December 2009, and endorsed by the Australian Government. The Code will exempt Austar from mandatory energy regulation in the sector.
Austar Spectrum Licenses. In addition to licenses issued under the BSA, Austar holds spectrum licenses issued under and regulated by the Radiocommunications Act. Austar currently holds 19 spectrum licenses in the 2.3GHz Band and 26 licenses in the 3.4GHz Band covering geographic areas similar to Austars subscription television areas. These licenses expire in 2015. The spectrum licenses authorize the use of spectrum space rather than the use of a specific device or technology. Similar to the BSA, licenses issued under the Radiocommunications Act are subject to general license conditions and may be subject to specific license conditions, which can be added, revoked or modified by written notice during the term of the license. Spectrum licensees must comply with core conditions of the license and be compatible with the technical framework for the bands. There are no restrictions on ownership or control of spectrum licenses, except that the licensee must be a resident of Australia. The Media Authority is currently reviewing the framework for spectrum license trading. In addition, the Media Authority has begun preliminary analysis and research into the issue of extending spectrum license terms, including the licenses held by Austar, prior to their expirations in 2015. The Media Authority is also reviewing the availability and use of alternative spectrum bands for wireless access services, such as the 2.5 GHz band (which competes with Austars 2.3 GHz holding).
Digital Dividend. The spectrum to be made available as part of the switch off of analog television is currently under review by the Australian Government. This spectrum, known as the digital dividend, is in the 700 MHz band. The Australian Government has issued a green paper on the issues surrounding use of the digital dividend. Issues for discussion include the restacking of the current digital broadcasting service bands used by FTA broadcasters and potential uses for the spectrum, such as mobile and wireless broadband.
Communications. A subsidiary of Austar holds a carrier license issued under the Telecommunications Act. This license authorizes Austar to operate its WiMax broadband network and requires compliance with a set of carrier obligations under the Telecommunications Act. Other Austar subsidiaries provide dial-up internet services, mobile telephony services, and broadband services operated as carriage service providers and are required to comply with certain aspects of Australian telecommunications legislation. These service providers must observe statutory obligations in relation to access, law enforcement and national security and interception, and must become members of the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman scheme, which manages complaints.
National Broadband Network. In April 2009, the Australian Government announced that it would establish a new company that will invest up to $43 billion over 8 years to build and operate a national broadband network (NBN). Under the plan, FTTH will be delivered to approximately 90% of homes and workplaces with speeds up to 100 Mbps. Next generation wireless and satellite technologies will supplement the FTTH build in regional and remote areas of Australia with speeds from 12 Mbps. The NBN will be initially wholly owned by the Australian Government but private investment will be encouraged. Full privatization is expected five years after the build is complete. The NBN company will be wholesale only and operate on an open access basis. The Australian Government is also proposing legislative changes that will set out the governance arrangements for the NBN company and that will facilitate the roll out of FTTH networks, including requiring use of fiber optic technology in greenfield developments and improving access to existing infrastructure for roll-out. The Australian Government introduced a new Bill relating to telecommunications regulation in September 2009. The Bill includes a package of reform covering three key areas: (1) measures to address the structure and incumbency in the Australian telecommunications market of the incumbent telecommunications provider, Telstra Corporation Limited (Telstra) (the Bill requires some form of vertical separation of Telstra and potentially the horizontal separation of Telstra
from Foxtel and its hybrid fiber coaxial cable network); (2) streamlining the competition regime for telecommunications; and (3) strengthening consumer safeguards. The Bill is expected to be debated in the first quarter of 2010.
Overview. In Japan, the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications, commonly referred to as the MIC, regulates the cable television industry and the telecommunication industry under different laws. With a view to convergence of broadcasting and telecommunication, the MIC has been discussing the enactment of a comprehensive law covering both the cable television industry and the telecommunications industry. In January 2010, MIC announced it would present the bill on the new law to the Japanese national legislature in 2010. The new law will include four statutes, covering wireless transmission infrastructure (terrestrial and satellite), wired transmission infrastructure, transmission services and content services, respectively. Each statute will cover all distribution platforms in a consistent manner, not on an industry-by-industry basis.
In the terrestrial television industry, under the Japanese Radio Act, terrestrial analog broadcasting is scheduled to be terminated and switched to digital broadcasting on July 24, 2011. To make the terrestrial digital switch smoother, the Government has sought the assistance of cable television operators and alternative broadband television providers. This provides J:COM the opportunity to establish a customer relationship with terrestrial analog television viewers by offering them a package of terrestrial digital broadcast channels and, for those who do not have digital-ready televisions and are unwilling to purchase digital reception equipment, the rental of a digital box. With respect to cable television operators, the Government has targeted the switch from analog to digital programming services to be completed as soon as possible and not later than December 2010. J:COM is targeting mid-2010 for the completion of its transition to all digital programming. In January 2009, however, the Government announced a proposal for cable television operators to provide transition services for analog television users after the termination of terrestrial analog signals in July 2011. Under the proposal, cable television operators would convert terrestrial digital signals to analog signals and transmit the analog signals to analog television users for a few years after the termination of terrestrial analog broadcasting. In December 2009, a committee consisting of representatives of, among others, the Government and cable television operators issued an action plan stating that such transmission to analog television users will be temporary and it is targeted to terminate such transmission in March 2015.
In January 2007, the amended Copyright Act was enacted to remove obstacles for simultaneous retransmission on alternative broadband television platforms of broadcasted television programs. Before the amendment, such simultaneous retransmission on these platforms required licenses from performers appearing in the programs and holders of rights to recordings used in the programs, not just from holders of copyrights to the programs and from the original broadcaster. Under the amended Copyright Act, broadcasted programs can be simultaneously retransmitted on alternative broadband television platforms to the service areas of the original broadcasting without obtaining licenses from, and instead only by paying a prescribed royalty to, such performers and recording right holders. Following this regulatory change, one alternative broadband operator started retransmission of broadcasted television programs in limited urban areas in the second quarter of 2008. Retransmission outside the original broadcast area is not permitted but may be permitted in the future. Competition from such alternative broadband operators providing retransmission service may increase if the geographic restriction in the amended Copyright Act on retransmission outside the original broadcast area is lifted in the future.
Regulation of the Cable Television Industry. The two key laws governing cable television broadcasting services in Japan are the Cable Television Broadcast Law and the Wire Telecommunications Law. The Cable Television Broadcast Law was enacted in 1972 to regulate the installation and operation of cable television broadcast facilities and the provision of cable television broadcast services. The Wire Telecommunications Law is the basic law in Japan governing wire telecommunications, and it regulates all wire telecommunications equipment, including cable television broadcast facilities.
Under the Cable Television Broadcast Law, any business seeking to install cable television facilities with more than 500 drop terminals must obtain a license from the MIC. Under the Wire Telecommunications Law, if these facilities have less than 500 drop terminals, only prior notification to the MIC is required. If a license is required, the license application must provide an installation plan, including installation areas and locations of the major facilities to be installed, the frequencies to be used, financial estimates, and other relevant information. Generally, the license holder must obtain prior permission from the MIC in order to change certain items included in the original license application. The Cable Television Broadcast Law also provides that any business that wishes to furnish cable television broadcast services must file prior notification with the MIC before commencing service. This notification must identify the facilities and frequency to be used, include a service area map (unless the facilities are owned by the provider), and outline the proposed cable television broadcasting services and other relevant information, regardless of whether these facilities are leased or owned. Generally, the cable television provider must notify the MIC of any changes to these items.
Prior to the commencement of operations, a cable television provider must notify the MIC of all charges and tariffs for its cable television broadcast services. A cable television provider must also give prior notification to the MIC of all amendments to existing tariffs or charges. No approval from the MIC is required for the commencement of operations or amendments to existing tariffs or charges in general. However, all charges and tariffs for mandatory re-broadcasting of television content, including amendments thereto, require the approval of the MIC.
A cable television provider must comply with specific requirements, including: (1) conforming with technical standards stipulated by the MIC; (2) making its facilities available for third party use for cable television broadcasting services, subject to the availability of broadcast capacity; (3) providing service within its service area to those who request it absent reasonable grounds for refusal; and (4) retransmitting television broadcasts in areas having difficulties receiving television signals (no consent from television broadcasters is required for retransmission in such areas).
The MIC may revoke a facility license if the license holder breaches the terms of its license; fails to comply with the technical standards stipulated by the MIC; fails to meet the requirements set forth in the Cable Television Broadcast Law; or fails to implement a MIC improvement order relating to its inappropriate operation of cable television broadcast services.
Regulation of the Telecommunications Industry. As providers of broadband internet and telephony, our businesses in Japan also are subject to regulation by the MIC under the Telecommunications Business Law. The Telecommunications Business Law and related regulations subject carriers to a variety of licensing, registration and filing requirements depending upon the nature of their networks and services. Carriers may generally negotiate terms and conditions with their users (including fees and charges), except those relating to basic telecommunications services.
Carriers who provide the Basic Telecommunications Services, defined as telecommunications that are indispensable to the lives of the citizenry as specified in MIC ordinances, are required to provide such services in an appropriate, fair and consistent manner. Carriers providing Basic Telecommunications Services must do so pursuant to terms and conditions and for rates that have been filed in advance with the MIC. The MIC may order modifications to contract terms and conditions it deems inappropriate for certain specified reasons. Currently Nippon Telephone & Telegraph East Corporation and Nippon Telephone & Telegraph West Corporation (collectively, NTT) are providing the Basic Telecommunications Services and the MIC requires other telecommunication service providers, including J:COM, to share the costs for NTT to provide the Basic Telecommunications Services. J:COM passes such costs to subscribers of its telecommunication service.
Carriers, other than those exceeding certain standards specified in the Telecommunications Business Law (such as NTT), may set interconnection tariffs and terms and conditions through independent negotiations without MIC approval.
Telecommunication carriers that own their telecommunication circuit facilities are required to maintain such facilities in conformity with specified technical standards. The MIC may order a carrier that fails to meet such standards to improve or repair its telecommunication facilities.
As described under Operations The Americas, VTR is subject to certain regulatory conditions as a result of its combination with Metrópolis Intercom SA in April 2005. These conditions are in addition to the regulations described below.
Video. Cable television services are regulated in Chile by the Ministry of Transportation and Telecommunications (the Ministry). VTR has permits to provide wireline cable television services in the major cities, including Santiago, and in most of the medium-sized markets in Chile. Wireline cable television permits are granted for an indefinite term and are non-exclusive. As a result, more than one operator may be in the same geographic area. As these permits do not use the radio-electric spectrum, they are granted without ongoing duties or royalties. Wireless cable television services are also regulated by the Ministry and similar permits are granted for these services.
With respect to digital terrestrial television (DTT) services, the Chilean Government adopted the Integrated Services Digital Broadcasting Terrestrial (ISDB-T) standard in September 2009. In November, 2008, the Chilean Government introduced two bills related to DTT regarding stricter content standards and new rules for granting and operating DTT concessions (among other matters), which are still pending. Some broadcasters are proposing to add must carry provisions to these bills; however, such provisions have not been included to date.
Cable television service providers in Chile are not required to carry any specific programming, but some restrictions may apply with respect to allowable programming. The National Television Council has authority over programming content, and it may impose sanctions on providers who are found to have run programming containing excessive violence, pornography or other objectionable content. A bill is pending before the Chilean Congress, which may result in additional controls on broadcasters that provide programming not suitable for children.
Cable television providers have historically retransmitted programming from broadcast television, without paying any compensation to the broadcasters. Certain broadcasters, however, have filed lawsuits against VTR claiming that VTR breached their intellectual property rights by retransmitting their signals. These lawsuits are still pending before the Chilean courts and a final judicial decision is not expected until the third quarter of 2010.
Internet. Internet services are considered complementary telecommunication services and, therefore, do not require concessions, permits or licenses. Pursuant to a condition imposed on VTR as a result of its combination with Metrópolis Intercom SA, VTR offers its broadband capacity for resale of internet services on a wholesale basis. The Chilean Government is reviewing new standards for internet services and the quality of such services. These standards could become law in 2010. Development of these standards may increase VTRs costs relating to the provision of internet service and the development of quality service monitoring and reporting systems.
A Bill on Net Neutrality is currently being discussed in the Chilean Senate. This Bill prohibits arbitrary blockings and supplying differentiated service conditions according to the origin or ownership of the content or service provided through the internet. The Bill also authorizes measures to enhance traffic performance and network management and authorizes the Chilean Secretary of Telecommunications to define minimum service requirements, as well as illegal practices.
The Chilean Congress finished its final review of a Bill on Intellectual Property in January 2010. The provisions of this Bill will become law upon official publication in the first quarter of 2010. When the Bill becomes law, it will establish an exemption from liabilities favoring ISPs on infringements of copyright and intellectual
property incurred by their users (similar to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act enacted by the U.S. Congress in 1998). It will impose on the ISPs the obligation of forwarding to end users all electronic notices warning about potential intellectual property infringements, and the obligation of blocking access to websites providing non-authorized access to protected content. The Bill also provides a mandatory arbitration procedure to solve disagreements and controversies over the fees fixed unilaterally by copyright collecting entities.
Telephony. The Ministry also regulates telephony services. The provision of telephony services (both fixed and mobile) requires a public telecommunication service concession. VTR has telecommunications concessions to provide wireline fixed telephony in most major and medium-sized markets in Chile. Telephony concessions are non-exclusive and have renewable 30-year terms. The original term of VTRs wireline fixed telephony concessions expires in November 2025. Long distance telephony services are considered intermediate telecommunications services and, as such, are also regulated by the Ministry. VTR has concessions to provide this service, which is non-exclusive, for a 30-year renewable term expiring in September 2025.
VTR has been awarded wireless fixed telephony concessions under which it has an exclusive right to use a specific block of spectrum in 3,400 MHz in most of the Chilean regions. With these concessions, VTR offers telephony and internet services using WiMax technology in parts of Santiago. The wireless fixed telephony concessions have been granted for renewable terms of 30 years. Such concessions are non-exclusive.
Local service concessionaires are obligated to provide telephony service to all customers that are within their service area or are willing to pay for an extension to receive service. All local service providers, including VTR, must give long distance telephony service providers equal access to their network connections at regulated prices and must interconnect with all other public services concessionaires whose systems are technically compatible.
In January 2008, the Ministry requested the Chilean Antitrust Tribunal to review the telephony market. In February 2009, the Antitrust Tribunal concluded that, although the local service telephony market cannot be characterized as competitive, it has enhanced its level of competition since it was reviewed in 2003. As a result, the Antitrust Tribunal determined that incumbent local telephone operators will no longer be subject to price regulation at a retail level. Such decision, however, required the Ministry to set forth rules for the incumbent operators only (identifying Compañia de Telecomunicaciones de Chile SA (Telefónica), Telefónica de Sur (TelSur) and Entel Telefonía Local SA), forbidding, among other things, price discrimination, fixed/mobile bundles and differentiated prices for on net and off net traffic. Also, the Antitrust Tribunal ordered the Ministry to set forth rules, for all operators, forbidding tied sales of telecommunication services included in a bundle, and imposing effective network unbundling and number portability. The Antitrust Tribunal also declared some ancillary services and network unbundling services to be subject to price regulation for all companies, including VTR.
Interconnect charges (including access charges and charges for network unbundling services) are determined by the regulatory authorities, which establish the maximum rates that may be charged by each operator for each type of service. This rate regulation is applicable to incumbent operators and all local and mobile telephony companies, including VTR. The maximum rates that may be charged by each operator for the corresponding service are made on a case-by-case basis, and are effective for five years. VTRs current interconnection and unbundling rates are effective until June 2012.
In August 2009, the Secretary of Telecommunications started a new tariff process on VTR related to certain ancillary telephone services (provided to end users) and additional network unbundling services (bitstream). The new tariff decree will be applied between 2010 and 2012.
During 2009, the Secretary of Telecommunications launched a 3G spectrum bid. Following an auction process, VTR was awarded one of the segments of spectrum (30 Mhz), for consideration of approximately CLP 1,669.0 million ($3.3 million), to be paid in addition to the project build-out costs. The definitive granting of the 3G license to VTR is still subject to the rejection of certain oppositions filed against such grant. According to the auction rules, VTR delivered a CLP 35.6 billion ($70.2 million) performance bond to guarantee timely and full
network deployment and completion of the project. If the concession is finally granted to VTR, the project must be completed within one year from the date the license decree is published, which publication is expected in 2010. At publication, the 3G license will have a 30-year renewable term.
In April 2007, a Bill regarding Telecommunications Antennas Towers was introduced in the Chilean House of Representatives. It includes stricter restrictions on the construction of new telecom towers, including (1) the requirement to obtain prior authorization from local authorities and certain neighbors (as defined) to build antennas in new sites and (2) prohibiting the placement of antennas in sites smaller than 400 square meters. A strong opposition to this Bill has been raised by the incumbent mobile operators, on constitutional grounds. The governments position about co-localization is unclear. Based on public statements by Ministry officials, we expect this Bill to be approved by the House of Representatives during 2010.
Rate Adjustments. With respect to VTRs ability to increase the price of its different telecommunication services to its subscribers, the General Consumer Protection Laws contain provisions that may be interpreted by the National Consumers Service (Sernac) to require that any increase in rates over the inflation rate to existing subscribers must be previously accepted and agreed to by those subscribers, impairing VTRs capacity to rationalize its price policy over current customers. VTR disagrees with this interpretation and is evaluating its options for adjusting or increasing its subscriber rates in compliance with applicable laws.
Channel Lineup. With respect to VTRs ability to modify its channel lineup without the previous consent of the subscribers, Sernac expressed that such action may be against certain provisions of the applicable Consumer Protection Law, including those provisions prohibiting misleading advertisement, unilateral modification of the clients contracts and abusive clauses. Sernac filed several lawsuits against VTR. In June 2008, the Court of Appeals of Santiago ruled against VTR in one of these lawsuits, and the Supreme Court rejected an appeal of this decision. Based on nine favorable rulings recently obtained by VTR, granting the company the right to modify its channel lineup, VTR disagrees with Sernacs interpretation. To prevent future conflicts with Sernac, VTR is negotiating with Sernac to establish common acceptable criteria to enable modifications of VTRs channel lineup.
The markets for video, broadband internet and telephony services, and for video programming, generally are highly competitive and rapidly evolving. Consequently, our businesses have faced and are expected to continue to face increased competition in these markets in the countries in which they operate and specifically, as a result of deregulation, in the EU. The percentage information in this section is as of the date of the relevant sources listed in the following sentences. The percentage information provided below for UPC Broadband is based on information from the subscription based website DataXis for the third quarter of 2009. The percentage information for Telenet is based on information from the Internet Services Providers Association of Belgium for the third quarter of 2009 and on internal market studies for telephony as of September 30, 2009. For Japan, the percentage information is based on information obtained from the website of the Japanese Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications, dated as of various dates from December 31, 2008 to August 31, 2009, from Hoso Journal by Hoso Journal-sha, Inc., dated December 2009, and internal market studies as of November 2009. For Chile, the percentage information is based on information provided by the Subsecretaria de Telecomunicaciones de Chile as of September 30, 2009. The competition in certain countries in which we operate is described more specifically after the respective competition overview on video, broadband internet and telephony.
Our businesses compete directly with a wide range of providers of news, information and entertainment programming to consumers. Depending upon the country and market, these may include: (1) traditional over-the-air broadcast television services; (2) DTH satellite service providers; (3) DTT broadcasters, which transmit digital signals over the air providing a greater number of channels and better quality than traditional analog broadcasting;
(4) other cable operators in the same communities that we serve; (5) other fixed line telecommunications carriers and broadband providers, including the incumbent telephony operators, offering video products (a) through broadband internet connections using DSL or ADSL technology (which we refer to as DSL-TV), (b) through DTH satellite systems, or (c) over fiber optic lines of FTTH networks; (6) satellite master antenna television systems, commonly known as SMATVs, which generally serve condominiums, apartment and office complexes and residential developments; (7) MMDS operators; and (8) movie theaters, video stores, video websites and home video products. Our businesses also compete to varying degrees with other sources of information and entertainment, such as online entertainment, newspapers, magazines, books, live entertainment/concerts and sporting events.
Over the last several years, competition has increased significantly from both new entrants and established competitors using advanced technologies and aggressively priced services. DTT is a significant part of the competitive market in Europe as a result of a number of different business models that range from full blown encrypted pay television to FTA television. Similarly DSL-TV, which is either provided directly by the owner of the network or by a third party, is fast becoming a significant part of the competitive environment. Also FTTH networks are becoming more prevalent and the number of providers of DTH satellite services has grown, particularly in the Central and Eastern European markets.
Portions of our systems have been overbuilt by FTTH networks. For example, FTTH networks have been launched by Reggefiber FttH (a partnership between Reggefiber ttH bv and KPN) in the Netherlands and by Telefónica 02 Czech Republic, a.s. in the Czech Republic. In Switzerland, Swisscom had approximately 50,000 homes on its FTTH network at the end of 2009, and plans to expand its FTTH network to approximately one million homes over the next five years. In Austria, Telekom Austria AG has announced plans to spend 1.5 billion ($2.1 billion) to build a fiber-based network by 2013, using a combination of FTTH, fiber to the building and fiber to the curb infrastructure. In Hungary, Magyar Telekom Rt continues to expand its FTTH network, reaching approximately 165,000 homes by year-end 2009. In addition, there is increasing willingness from government and quasi-government entities in Europe to invest in such networks, creating a new source of competition. At December 31, 2009, approximately 16.5% of our cable networks in the aggregate have been overbuilt by FTTH networks, ranging from approximately 1% of our footprint in Austria to 65% of our footprint in Slovakia.
In most of our Central and Eastern European markets, we are also experiencing significant competition from Digi TV, the DTH platform of a Romanian cable, telephony and internet service provider that is targeting our analog cable, MMDS and DTH customers with aggressively priced DTH packages, in addition to overbuilding portions of our cable network in Hungary and Romania. The incumbent telecommunications operator in Romania also operates a competing DTH platform. Our DTH platforms, through UPC Direct and another subsidiary, offer advanced services and functionality, including DVR and premium content, to four of our Central and Eastern Europe markets.
In most of our European markets, competitive video services are now being offered by the incumbent telecommunications operator, whose video strategies include DSL-TV, DTH, DTT and FTTH. The ability of incumbent operators to offer the so-called triple-play of video, broadband internet and telephony services is exerting growing competitive pressure on our operations, including the pricing and bundling of our video products. In order to gain video market share, the incumbent operators and
alternative service providers in a number of our larger markets have been pricing their DTT and DSL-TV video packages at a discount to the retail price of the comparable digital cable service and, in the case of DSL-TV, including DVRs as a standard feature.
To meet the challenges in this competitive environment, we tailor our packages in each country in line with one or more of three general strategies: channel offerings, recurring discounts for bundled services and loyalty contracts. Generally, discounts for bundled services are available in all our Europe operations. In addition, we seek to compete by accelerating the migration of our customers from analog to digital services, using advanced digital features such as VoD, HD, DVRs, catch-up television and offering attractive content packages and bundles of services at reasonable prices. VoD, HD and DVRs are an integral part of our digital services in almost all or our markets. In addition, from time to time, digital channel offerings are modified by our operations. Also, in Europe, the triple-play bundle is used as a means of driving video, as well as other products where convenience and price can be leveraged across the portfolio of services.
The Netherlands. In the Netherlands, 78% of all households subscribe to a cable service and UPC Netherlands share of that video cable market is 35%. Historically, satellite television penetration has been the main source of our competition in the Netherlands. Competition from the DTT and DSL-TV services offered by KPN is also strong with KPN providing video services to 11% of the total video households. KPN is the majority owner of the Netherlands DTT service, Digitenne. It also offers a DSL-TV service that includes VoD, an electronic program guide and DVR functionality. KPN is targeting our price sensitive analog and digital customers with discounted Digitenne offers and, to a lesser extent, DSL-TV video packages. With its nationwide telecommunications network and ability to offer bundled triple-play services, KPN is a significant competitor. In addition, FTTH networks have become a serious competitive factor with Reggefiber FTTH networks in a number of cities and future expansion of these networks expected within our service area. To enhance its competitive position, UPC Netherlands offers VoD services, DVR functionality and HD set-top boxes to all UPC Netherlands digital cable customers. Such services allow UPC Netherlands subscribers to personalize their programming. Also, UPC Netherlands markets a variety of bundle options from which subscribers can select various combinations of services, including internet and telephony options, to meet their needs.
Switzerland. We are the largest cable television provider in Switzerland based on the number of video cable subscribers and are the sole provider in substantially all of our network area. Over 50% of video cable subscribers in Switzerland receive their service from Cablecom. Due to a small program offering, competition from terrestrial television in Switzerland is limited, although DTT is now available in most parts of Switzerland. DTH satellite services are also limited due to various legal restrictions such as construction and zoning regulations or rental agreements that prohibit or impede installation of satellite dishes. Given technical improvements, such as the availability of smaller satellite antennae, as well as the continuous improvements of DTH offerings, continued competition is expected from the satellite television operators. Our main competition is Swisscom, the incumbent telecommunications operator, which offers DSL-TV services to approximately 6% of all video subscribers in Switzerland and has plans to further extend its FTTH network. Swisscom offers VoD services as well as DVR functionality and HD services. To effectively compete, Cablecom enhanced its digital television platform with the rollout of DVR functionality and HD services in 2008, followed by VoD and catch-up television in 2009. Cablecom has also introduced promotion packages for its bundle services, offering triple-play services for the price of two and double-play services at a discount.
Other Western Europe. In Austria, we are the largest cable television provider based on number of video cable subscribers. Our primary competition in Austria for video customers is from FTA television received via satellite and from the DSL-TV services provided by the incumbent telecommunications operator, Telekom Austria AG. Over half of the Austrian households receive only FTA television compared to approximately 48% of Austrian households receiving a subscription video service. UPC Austria provides video cable services to approximately 37% of the cable households in Austria. Newer technologies such as DSL-TV from Telekom Austria AG represent an increasing threat with digital services incorporating premium services, such as VoD, offered at a heavy discount to the
video cable subscription price within the market. To stay competitive, UPC Austria offers HD DVR functionality and VoD service. Also, UPC Austria markets competitively priced bundle options.
Ireland has one of the highest digital and pay television penetration rates in Europe with 73% of the households subscribing to a video service. UPC Ireland provides video cable and MMDS services to 46% of such households. We are the largest cable television provider in Ireland based on number of video cable subscribers. Our primary competition for video customers is from British Sky Broadcasting plc, which provides DTH satellite services in Ireland. We will also face potential competition from the fixed line incumbent, Eircom Limited, which has been provisionally awarded the commercial DTT license after Boxer DTT Limited (a joint venture between Boxer TV-Access AB and Communicorp Group Ltd.) withdrew from the license process in 2009. The DTT service would be launched in parallel with the public sector DTT service and would provide pay-access to channels such as the UK terrestrial channels to compliment the Irish public service FTA channels on the public sector DTT service. The DTT timelines are yet unclear, but provisionally scheduled for the second quarter of 2010. To stay competitive, UPC Ireland has revised its channel offerings in its analog and digital packages to include certain popular premium channels at no additional charge.
Central and Eastern Europe. In Hungary, 77% of the households subscribe to a video service with a majority, 75%, using a video cable service. We are the largest cable television provider based on number of video cable subscribers. UPC Hungarys share of the video cable market is 27%. We also provide satellite services in Hungary through UPC Direct, in competition with three other DTH providers. One of these, Digi TV, is an aggressive competitor whose DTH services can reach up to 100% of UPC Hungarys DTH and cable service areas and who has overbuilt nearly half of UPC Hungarys cable service areas with its own cable network. Digi TV is targeting UPC Hungarys analog cable and DTH subscribers with low-priced video packages. To meet the competition, UPC Hungary has introduced an aggressive price plan and targeted bundle offers for the areas in which Digi TV is operating its cable service. UPC Hungary also faces competition from the incumbent telecommunications company Magyar Telekom Rt. (in which Deutsche Telekom has a majority stake). Magyar Telekom Rt. offers a DSL-TV service, including a VoD service, to internet subscribers of its ISP subsidiary and triple-play packages, as well as a DTH service with bundle options. Both Magyar Telekom Rt and Digi TV also provide services over FTTH networks. To meet such competition, UPC Hungary offers a digital television platform with DVR functionality and HD and VoD services. Of the subscription video households in Hungary, 13% subscribe to Digi TVs DTH service, 6% subscribe to Digi TVs cable service and 26% subscribe to UPC Hungarys video cable service.
As in Hungary, Digi TV is also an aggressive DTH competitor in Romania, Czech Republic and Slovakia. Digi TVs share of the subscription video households in Romania, Czech Republic and Slovakia is 38%, 15% and 27%, respectively. Our market share of such subscription video households is 22%, 57% and 23%, respectively. In Romania, competition also comes from alternative distributors of television signals, including Rom Telecom SA, another DTH provider, and Romania Cable Systems, a cable systems operator. Currently, in the Czech Republic, the incumbent telephone company offers a DSL-TV service, several other operators provide DTH services and a number of local ISPs provide FTTH services. This makes the market for television subscribers in the Czech Republic extremely competitive with price often the deciding factor. In addition, over 70% of the Czech Republic can receive DTT services for free. Pre-paid DTH services are also increasing in popularity in the Czech Republic and Slovakia. In Poland, UPC Poland competes with four DTH service providers, including the incumbent telecommunications provider Telekomunikacja Polska SA, which launched its DTH service in 2008 and offers a mobile broadband service. UPC Poland also competes with three other major cable operators with triple-play services, who have overbuilt portions of UPC Polands operations. Also in Central and Eastern Europe, competition from DTT providers has increased significantly in 2009 and FTTH networks are being trialed or expanded. Subscribers in Central and Eastern Europe tend to be more price sensitive than in other European markets. To address such sensitivity and meet competition, our operations in Central and Eastern Europe offer a variety of bundled service packages and enhanced digital services, such as VoD and DVR and channel offerings that include certain premium channels at no additional charge.
Belgium. Belgium has a high cable penetration rate with 86% of the households subscribing to a cable service. Telenets video cable market share is 52%, making it the largest cable television provider based on number of video cable subscribers. Telenets principal competitor is Belgacom, the incumbent telecommunications operator, which has interactive digital television and HD service as part of its video offer. Belgacom also offers double-play and triple-play packages. We also face competition from TV Vlaanderen, which provides digital television via satellite. As a result of the PICs Agreement, we have expanded our digital interactive services and other video cable service on the PICs network. See Operations Europe Liberty Global Europe Telenet (Belgium) above. We believe this expansion of services, together with our extensive cable network, the broad acceptance of our basic cable television services and our extensive additional features, such as HD and DVR functionality and VoD offering, enhances our competitive position.
With respect to broadband internet services and online content, our businesses face competition in a rapidly evolving marketplace from incumbent and non-incumbent telecommunications companies, mobile operators and cable-based ISPs, many of which have substantial resources. The internet services offered by these competitors include both traditional dial-up internet services, wireline broadband internet services using DSL or FTTH, and wireless broadband internet services, in a range of product offerings with varying speeds and pricing, as well as interactive computer-based services, data and other non-video services to homes and businesses. As the technology develops, competition from wireless services using various advanced technologies may become significant. We are seeing intense competition in Europe from mobile carriers that offer mobile data cards allowing a laptop user to access the carriers broadband wireless data network with varying speeds and pricing.
Our strategy is speed leadership and we seek to out-perform on speed, including increasing the maximum speed of our connections and offering varying tiers of service and varying prices, as well as a bundled product offering and a range of value added services. In 2008, UPC Netherlands launched a new bundling strategy, along with (and including) its ultra high-speed internet service with speeds of up to 120 Mbps to compete with FTTH initiatives. In 2009, we also launched our ultra high-speed internet service in most of our other European markets. The focus is to launch high-end internet products to safeguard our high-end customer base and allow us to become
more aggressive at the low and medium-end of the internet market. By fully utilizing the technical capabilities of Euro DOCSIS 3.0 technology, we can compete with local FTTH initiatives and create a competitive advantage compared to DSL infrastructures on a national level.
In the Netherlands, we face competition from KPN, the largest broadband internet provider with 45% of the internet market, and operators using the unbundled local loop. As of September 30, 2009, UPC Netherlands provided broadband internet services to 12% of the total broadband internet market. In the second quarter of 2009, UPC Netherlands completed the upgrade of its network to Euro DOCSIS 3.0 and launched its new ultra high-speed internet portfolio. UPC Netherlands now offers significantly more speed at price points similar to the competition.
In Switzerland, Swisscom is the largest provider of broadband internet services, with an estimated market share of 56% of all broadband internet customers. The next significant competitor is Sunrise Communications AG with 15% of the broadband internet market. Cablecom serves 18% of all broadband internet customers. Cablecom distinguishes itself through bundle offerings and its ultra high-speed internet services.
UPC Austrias largest competitor with respect to internet services is the incumbent telecommunications company, Telekom Austria AG, with approximately 55% of the total broadband internet subscribers in Austria. UPC Austrias share of the total broadband internet subscribers is 24%. In addition, UPC Austria faces competition from unbundled local loop access and mobile broadband operators, which have increased the competition in the broadband internet market significantly. Competitors in the Austrian broadband internet market are focusing on speed and pricing to attract customers. To compete, UPC Austria has launched bundled offers specifically aimed at these market segments. UPC Austria uses its ultra high-speed internet services and triple-play bundling capabilities across all market segments to encourage customers from other providers to switch to UPC Austrias services and to reduce churn in the existing customer base.
Mobile data card providers are gaining market share throughout Europe. For example, in Ireland, the largest telephony provider, Telefónica O2 Ireland Limited, offers a range of mobile internet products at competitive prices. The trend towards mobile internet is also visible throughout Europe, where market developments in Austria and Ireland (driven by 3, a brand name of Hutchison 3G Austria GmbH and Hutchison 3G Ireland Ltd.) are most significant. Outside of mobile internet, UPC Irelands most significant competitor is the fixed line incumbent, Eircom Limited, with 55% of the broadband internet market.
In Central and Eastern Europe, our principal competitors are DSL operators and cable companies that are overbuilding our cable network. FTTH networks are also being built. To a lesser extent mobile broadband is also a threat in the Czech Republic and Slovakia. In Hungary, the primary competitors are the incumbent telecommunications company, Magyar Telekom Rt., and Digi TV as well as mobile broadband operators. Such competition has caused existing low-end options to be more prominent in the market. In all of our Central and Eastern Europe markets, except for Romania, we are using our ultra high-speed internet to attract and retain customers. In 2010 we will launch an ultra high-speed internet service in Romania as well.
In Belgium, the internet market continues to grow at a significant pace with 68% of households subscribing to an internet service. Telenets primary competitor is Belgacom and other DSL service providers. Belgacom is currently upgrading its network to enable enhanced internet speeds. Also, mobile internet use is increasing. To compete, Telenet offers one of the fastest speeds available to
residential customers in Belgium and plans to attract customers with the launch of its ultra high-speed internet service in 2010. Telenet provides broadband internet service to 23.5% of the total broadband internet market in Belgium.
With respect to telephony services, our businesses continue to compete against the incumbent telecommunications operator in each country. These operators have substantially more experience in providing telephony services, greater resources to devote to the provision of telephony services and long-standing customer relationships. In many countries, our businesses also face competition from other cable telephony providers, wireless telephony providers, FTTH-based providers or other indirect access providers. Competition in both the residential and business telephony markets will increase with certain market trends and regulatory changes, such as general price competition, the offering of carrier pre-select services, number portability, continued deregulation of telephony markets, the replacement of fixed line with mobile telephony, and the growth of VoIP services. Carrier pre-select allows the end user to choose the voice services of operators other than the incumbent while using the incumbents network. If competition in the telephony market continues to intensify, we may lose existing or potential subscribers to our competitors. We seek to compete on pricing as well as product innovation, such as personal call manager and unified messaging. We also offer varying plans to meet customer needs and various bundle options.
Our telephony strategy in Europe is focused around price leadership, and we position our services as unlimited, using our existing product portfolio. Our portfolio includes a basic telephony product for line rental (which includes unlimited network calling in some countries, like Romania), unlimited national off peak calling branded Freetime and unlimited national 24/7 calling branded Anytime. In 2009, we launched price plans, including unlimited international calls within the EU, in most of our markets. We also use our bundle offerings to help promote telephony services.
In the Netherlands, KPN is the dominant telephony provider, but all of the large MSOs, including UPC Netherlands, as well as ISPs, offer VoIP services and continue to gain market share from KPN. In
Switzerland, we are the largest VoIP service provider, but Swisscom is the dominant fixed line telephony service provider followed by Sunrise Communications AG, which also offers carrier pre-select services. To meet the competition, Cablecom enhanced its portfolio with attractive bundle options. The market share of the fixed line telephony market for UPC Netherlands is 8% and for Cablecom is 9%.
In Austria and in our Central and Eastern European markets, the incumbent telephone companies dominate the telephony market. Most of the fixed line competition to the incumbent telephone operators in these countries is from entities that provide carrier pre-select or wholesale line rental services. We also compete with ISPs that offer VoIP services and mobile operators. In Austria, we serve our subscribers with circuit-switched telephony services, VoIP over our cable network, and DSL technology service over an unbundled loop. In Hungary, we provide circuit-switched telephony services over our copper wire telephony network and VoIP telephony services over our cable network. We continue to gain market share with our VoIP telephony service offerings in all of our European markets and in some markets we have enhanced our telephony services through unlimited calling options.
In Belgium, Belgacom is the dominant telephony provider. To gain market share, we emphasize customer service and provide innovative plans to meet the needs of our customers, such as the new Free Phone Europe flat fee plan offered in the shake bundles (free off-peak calls to fixed lines in Belgium and 35 European countries). We also compete with mobile operators, including Belgacom, in the provision of telephony service in Belgium. Telenets share of the fixed line telephony market is 16%.
The business of providing programming for cable and satellite television distribution is highly competitive. Our programming businesses directly compete with other programmers for distribution on a limited number of channels. Once distribution is obtained, these programming services compete, to varying degrees, for viewers and advertisers with other cable and over-the-air broadcast television programming services as well as with other entertainment media, including home video (generally video rentals), online activities, movies and other forms of news, information and entertainment.
As of December 31, 2009, we, including our consolidated subsidiaries, had an aggregate of approximately 23,000 employees, certain of whom belong to organized unions and works councils. Certain of our subsidiaries also use contract and temporary employees, which are not included in this number, for various projects. We believe that our employee relations are good.
Financial Information About Geographic Areas
Financial information related to the geographic areas in which we do business appears in note 20 to our consolidated financial statements included in Part II of this report.
All our filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) as well as amendments to such filings are available on our internet website free of charge generally within 24 hours after we file such material with the SEC. Our website address is www.lgi.com. The information on our website is not incorporated by reference herein.
In addition to the other information contained in this Annual Report on Form 10-K, you should consider the following risk factors in evaluating our results of operations, financial condition, business and operations or an investment in our stock.
The risk factors described in this section have been separated into four groups:
Although we describe below and elsewhere in this Annual Report on Form 10-K the risks we consider to be the most material, there may be other unknown or unpredictable economic, business, competitive, regulatory or other factors that also could have material adverse effects on our results of operations, financial condition, business or operations in the future. In addition, past financial performance may not be a reliable indicator of future performance and historical trends should not be used to anticipate results or trends in future periods.
If any of the events described below, individually or in combination, were to occur, our businesses, prospects, financial condition, results of operations and/or cash flows could be materially adversely affected.
Factors Relating to Competition and Technology
We operate in increasingly competitive markets, and there is a risk that we will not be able to effectively compete with other service providers. The markets for cable television, broadband internet and telephony in many of the regions in which we operate are highly competitive. In the provision of video services we face competition from DTT broadcasters, video provided over satellite platforms, networks using DSL technology, FTTH networks and, in some countries where parts of our systems are overbuilt, cable networks, among others. Our operating businesses are facing increasing competition from video services provided by or over the networks of incumbent telecommunications operators and other service providers. In the provision of telephony and broadband internet services, we are experiencing increasing competition from the incumbent telecommunications operators and other service providers in each country in which we operate. The incumbent telecommunication operators typically
dominate the market for these services and have the advantage of nationwide networks and greater resources than we have to devote to the provision of these services. Many of the incumbent operators are now offering double-play and triple-play bundles of services. In many countries, we also compete with other operators using the unbundled local loop of the incumbent telecommunications operator to provide these services, other facilities-based operators and wireless providers. Developments in the DSL technology used by the incumbent telecommunications operators and alternative providers have improved the attractiveness of our competitors products and services and strengthened their competitive position. Developments in wireless technology, such as WiMax, may lead to additional competitive challenges.
In some European markets, national and local government agencies may seek to become involved, either directly or indirectly, in the establishment of FTTH networks, DTT systems or other communications systems. We intend to pursue available options to restrict such involvement or to ensure that such involvement is on commercially reasonable terms. There can be no assurance, however, that we will be successful in these pursuits. As a result, we may face competition from entities not requiring a normal commercial return on their investments. In addition, we may face more vigorous competition than would have been the case if there were no government involvement.
The market for programming services is also highly competitive. Programming businesses compete with other programmers for distribution on a limited number of channels. Once distribution is obtained, program offerings must then compete for viewers and advertisers with other programming services as well as with other entertainment media, such as home video, online activities, movies, live events, radio broadcasts and print media. Technology advances, such as download speeds, VoD, interactive and mobile broadband services, have increased audience fragmentation through the number of entertainment and information delivery choices. Such increased choices could adversely affect consumer demand for services and viewing preferences. At the same time, these advances have beneficial effects for our programming businesses by increasing the available platforms for distribution of our services.
We expect the level and intensity of competition to continue to increase from both existing competitors and new market entrants as a result of changes in the regulatory framework of the industries in which we operate, advances in technology, the influx of new market entrants and strategic alliances and cooperative relationships among industry participants. Increased competition has resulted in increased customer churn, reductions in the rate of customer acquisition and significant price competition in most of our markets. In combination with difficult economic environments, these competitive pressures could adversely impact our ability to increase or, in certain cases, maintain the revenue, average monthly subscription revenue per average RGU (ARPU), RGUs, operating cash flows, operating cash flow margins and liquidity of our operating segments.
Changes in technology may limit the competitiveness of and demand for our services. Technology in the video, telecommunications and data services industries is changing rapidly. This significantly influences the demand for the products and services that are offered by our businesses. The ability to anticipate changes in technology and consumer tastes and to develop and introduce new and enhanced products on a timely basis will affect our ability to continue to grow, increase our revenue and number of subscribers and remain competitive. New products, once marketed, may not meet consumer expectations or demand, can be subject to delays in development and may fail to operate as intended. A lack of market acceptance of new products and services which we may offer, or the development of significant competitive products or services by others, could have a material adverse impact on our revenue and operating cash flow.
Our capital expenditures may not generate a positive return. The video, broadband internet and telephony businesses in which we operate are capital intensive. Significant capital expenditures are required to add customers to our networks, including expenditures for equipment and labor costs. No assurance can be given that our future capital expenditures will generate a positive return or that we will have adequate capital available to finance such future upgrades. If we are unable to, or elect not to, pay for costs associated with adding new customers, expanding or upgrading our networks or making our other planned or unplanned capital expenditures, our growth could be limited and our competitive position could be harmed.
If we are unable to obtain attractive programming or necessary equipment and software on satisfactory terms for our digital cable services, the demand for our services could be reduced, thereby lowering revenue and profitability. We rely on digital programming suppliers for the bulk of our programming content. We may not be able to obtain sufficient high-quality programming for our digital cable services on satisfactory terms or at all in order to offer compelling digital cable services. This may also limit our ability to migrate customers from lower tier programming to higher tier programming, thereby inhibiting our ability to execute our business plans. Furthermore, we may not be able to obtain attractive country-specific programming for video services. In addition, must carry requirements may consume channel capacity otherwise available for other services. Any or all of these factors could result in reduced demand for, and lower revenue and profitability from, our digital video services. Further, we may not be able to obtain the equipment, software and services required for our businesses on a timely basis or on satisfactory terms. We depend on third-party suppliers and licensors to supply our equipment, software and certain services. If demand exceeds these suppliers and licensors capacity or if they experience financial difficulties, the ability of our businesses to provide some services may be materially adversely affected, which in turn could affect our businesses ability to attract and retain customers. Although we actively monitor the creditworthiness of our key third party suppliers and licensors, the financial failure of a key third party supplier or licensor could disrupt our operations and have an adverse impact on our cash flows.
Failure in our technology or telecommunications systems could significantly disrupt our operations, which could reduce our customer base and result in lost revenues. Our success depends, in part, on the continued and uninterrupted performance of our information technology and network systems as well as our customer service centers. The hardware supporting a large number of critical systems for our cable network in a particular country or geographic region is housed in a relatively small number of locations. Our systems are vulnerable to damage from a variety of sources, including telecommunications failures, power loss, malicious human acts and natural disasters. Moreover, despite security measures, our servers are potentially vulnerable to physical or electronic break-ins, computer viruses and similar disruptive problems. Despite the precautions we have taken, unanticipated problems affecting our systems could cause failures in our information technology systems or disruption in the transmission of signals over our networks. Sustained or repeated system failures that interrupt our ability to provide service to our customers or otherwise meet our business obligations in a timely manner would adversely affect our reputation and result in a loss of customers and net revenue.
Factors Relating to Overseas Operations and Foreign Regulation
Our businesses are conducted almost exclusively outside of the United States, which gives rise to numerous operational risks. Our businesses operate almost exclusively in countries outside the United States and are thereby subject to the following inherent risks:
Operational risks that we may experience in certain countries include disruptions of services or loss of property or equipment that are critical to overseas businesses due to expropriation, nationalization, war, insurrection, terrorism or general social or political unrest.
We are exposed to various foreign currency exchange rate risks. We are exposed to foreign currency exchange risk with respect to our consolidated debt in situations where our debt is denominated in a currency other than the functional currency of the operations whose cash flows support our ability to repay or refinance such debt. Although we generally seek to match the denomination of our and our subsidiaries borrowings with the functional currency of the operations that are supporting the respective borrowings, market conditions or other factors may
cause us to enter into borrowing arrangements that are not denominated in the functional currency of the underlying operations (unmatched debt). In these cases, our policy is to provide for an economic hedge against foreign currency exchange rate movements by using cross-currency interest rate swaps to synthetically convert unmatched debt into the applicable underlying currency. At December 31, 2009, substantially all of our debt was either directly or synthetically matched to the applicable functional currencies of the underlying operations.
In addition to the exposure that results from the mismatch of our borrowings and underlying functional currencies, we are exposed to foreign currency risk to the extent that we enter into transactions denominated in currencies other than our or our subsidiaries respective functional currencies (non-functional currency risk), such as investments in debt and equity securities of foreign subsidiaries, equipment purchases, programming contracts, notes payable and notes receivable (including intercompany amounts) that are denominated in a currency other than the applicable functional currency. Changes in exchange rates with respect to amounts recorded in our consolidated balance sheets related to these items will result in unrealized (based upon period-end exchange rates) or realized foreign currency transaction gains and losses upon settlement of the transactions. Moreover, to the extent that our revenue, costs and expenses are denominated in currencies other than our respective functional currencies, we will experience fluctuations in our revenue, costs and expenses solely as a result of changes in foreign currency exchange rates. In this regard, we expect that during 2010, (1) approximately 1% to 3% of our revenue, (2) approximately 7% to 9% of our aggregate operating and selling, general and administrative (SG&A) expenses (exclusive of stock-based compensation expense) and (3) approximately 22% to 24% of our capital expenditures (including capital lease additions) will be denominated in non-functional currencies, including amounts denominated in (a) U.S. dollars in Europe, Chile, Argentina and Australia and (b) euros in Switzerland, Poland, Hungary, Romania and the Czech Republic. Our expectations with respect to our non-functional currency transactions in 2010, which exclude non-functional currency transactions of J:COM and Unitymedia, may differ from actual results. Generally, we will consider hedging non-functional currency risks when the risks arise from agreements with third parties that involve the future payment or receipt of cash or other monetary items to the extent that we can reasonably predict the timing and amount of such payments or receipts. In this regard, we have entered into foreign currency forward contracts covering the forward purchase of the U.S. dollar, euro and British pound sterling and the forward sale of the Hungarian forint, Polish zloty, Czech koruna, Japanese yen, Chilean peso, euro and Australian dollar to hedge certain of these risks. Although certain non-functional currency risks related to our revenue and operating and SG&A expenses and most of the non-functional currency risks related to our capital expenditures were not hedged as of December 31, 2009, we expect to continue to increase our use of hedging strategies during 2010 with respect to non-functional currency amounts included in our revenue and our operating and SG&A expenses. For additional information concerning our foreign currency forward contracts, see note 7 to our consolidated financial statements included in Part II of this report.
We also are exposed to unfavorable and potentially volatile fluctuations of the U.S. dollar (our reporting currency) against the currencies of our operating subsidiaries and affiliates when their respective financial statements are translated into U.S. dollars for inclusion in our consolidated financial statements. Cumulative translation adjustments are recorded in accumulated other comprehensive earnings (loss) as a separate component of shareholders equity. Any increase (decrease) in the value of the U.S. dollar against any foreign currency that is the functional currency of one of our operating subsidiaries or affiliates will cause us to experience unrealized foreign currency translation losses (gains) with respect to amounts already invested in such foreign currencies. As a result of foreign currency risk, we may experience a negative impact on our comprehensive earnings (loss) and equity with respect to our holdings solely as a result of foreign currency translation. Our primary exposure to foreign currency risk from a foreign currency translation perspective is to the euro and, to a lesser extent, the Swiss franc, the Chilean peso, the Australian dollar and other local currencies in Europe. We generally do not hedge against the risk that we may incur non-cash losses upon the translation of the financial statements of our subsidiaries and affiliates into U.S. dollars.
Our businesses are subject to risks of adverse regulation by foreign governments. Our businesses are subject to the unique regulatory regimes of the countries in which they operate. Cable and telecommunications businesses are subject to licensing or registration eligibility rules and regulations, which vary by country. The provision of electronic communications networks and services require our licensing from, or registration with, the appropriate
regulatory authorities and, for telephony services, entrance into interconnection arrangements with the incumbent phone companies. It is possible that countries in which we operate may adopt laws and regulations regarding electronic commerce, which could dampen the growth of the internet services being offered and developed by these businesses. In a number of countries, our ability to increase the prices we charge for our cable television service or make changes to the programming packages we offer is limited by regulation or conditions imposed by competition authorities or is subject to review by regulatory authorities. In addition, regulatory authorities may grant new licenses to third parties and, in any event, in most of our markets new entry is possible without a license, resulting in greater competition in territories where our businesses may already be active. More significantly, regulatory authorities may require us to grant third parties access to our bandwidth, frequency capacity, facilities or services, as in the Netherlands. In this regard, UPC Netherlands is expected to be required to begin offering its analog cable package (together with the required access) to resellers during the second quarter of 2010. As the wholesale rate that UPC Netherlands will receive from resellers will be somewhat lower than UPC Netherlands current retail rate for analog cable services, UPC Netherlands average monthly subscription revenue for each analog cable customer and revenue from analog cable services are expected to be adversely impacted to the extent that existing retail analog cable customers of UPC Netherlands become retail analog cable customers of resellers. Programming businesses are subject to regulation on a country by country basis, including programming content requirements, requirements to make programming available on non-discriminatory terms, and service quality standards. In some cases, ownership restrictions may apply to broadband communications and/or programming businesses. Consequently, our businesses must adapt their ownership and organizational structure as well as their pricing and service offerings to satisfy the rules and regulations to which they are subject. A failure to comply with these rules and regulations could result in penalties, restrictions on such business or loss of required licenses or other adverse conditions.
Such adverse conditions could:
Businesses, including ours, that offer multiple services, such as video distribution as well as internet and telephony, or that are vertically integrated and offer both video distribution and programming content, often face close regulatory scrutiny from competition authorities in several countries in which we operate. This is particularly the case with respect to any proposed business combinations which will often require clearance from national competition authorities. The regulatory authorities in several countries in which we do business have considered from time to time what access rights, if any, should be afforded to third parties for use of existing cable television networks and in certain countries have imposed access obligations. This has resulted, for example, in specific obligations in the Netherlands in respect of TV resale and distribution, as well as obligations of call termination in respect of our telephony business in Europe and video must carry obligations in many markets in which we operate.
When we acquire additional communications companies, these acquisitions may require the approval of governmental authorities (either at country or European level), which can block, impose conditions on, or delay an acquisition; thus hampering our opportunities for growth.
New legislation may significantly alter the regulatory regime applicable to us, which could adversely affect our competitive position and profitability, and we may become subject to more extensive regulation if we are deemed to possess significant market power in any of the markets in which we operate. Significant changes to the existing regulatory regime applicable to the provision of cable television, telephony and internet services have been and are still being introduced in jurisdictions in which we operate. For example, in the European Union a large
element of regulation affecting our business derives from a number of legal measures, which we refer to as the Directives, and that are the basis of the regulatory regime concerning many of the services we offer across the EU. The various Directives require Member States to harmonize their laws on communications and cover such issues as access, user rights, privacy and competition. The EU has recently completed a review of all the Directives; however, from time to time any one or more of the Directives may again be reviewed by the EU. Countries will be harmonizing their laws to the Directives as changed in this last review. In harmonizing their laws pursuant to the Directives, Member States have a degree of discretion and may change national laws in a way that is more unfavorable to our operations than the Directives demand.
We cannot be certain that we will be successful in acquiring new businesses or integrating acquired businesses with our existing operations. Historically, our businesses have grown, in part, through selective acquisitions that enabled them to take advantage of existing networks, local service offerings and region-specific management expertise. We expect to seek to continue growing our businesses through acquisitions in selected markets. Our ability to acquire new businesses may be limited by many factors, including availability of financing, debt covenants, the prevalence of complex ownership structures among potential targets, government regulation and competition from other potential acquirers, primarily private equity funds. Even if we were successful in acquiring new businesses, the integration of new businesses may present significant costs and challenges, including: realizing economies of scale in interconnection, programming and network operations; eliminating duplicative overheads; and integrating personnel, networks, financial systems and operational systems. We cannot assure you that we will be successful in acquiring new businesses or realizing the anticipated benefits of any completed acquisition, including the recently completed Unitymedia Acquisition.
In addition, we anticipate that most, if not all, companies acquired by us will be located outside the United States. Foreign companies may not have disclosure controls and procedures or internal controls over financial reporting that are as thorough or effective as those required by U.S. securities laws. While we intend to conduct appropriate due diligence and to implement appropriate controls and procedures as we integrate acquired companies, we may not be able to certify as to the effectiveness of these companies disclosure controls and procedures or internal controls over financial reporting until we have fully integrated them.
We may have to pay U.S. taxes on earnings of certain of our foreign subsidiaries regardless of whether such earnings are actually distributed to us, and we may be limited in claiming foreign tax credits; since substantially all of our revenue is generated through foreign investments, these tax risks could have a material adverse impact on our effective income tax rate, financial condition and liquidity. Certain foreign corporations in which we have interests, particularly those in which we have controlling interests, are considered to be controlled foreign corporations under U.S. tax law. In general, our pro rata share of certain income earned by our subsidiaries that are controlled foreign corporations during a taxable year when such subsidiaries have positive current or accumulated earnings and profits will be included in our income when the income is earned, regardless of whether the income is distributed to us. This income, typically referred to as Subpart F income, generally includes, but is not limited to, such items as interest, dividends, royalties, gains from the disposition of certain property, certain currency exchange gains in excess of currency exchange losses, and certain related party sales and services income. In addition, a U.S. stockholder of a controlled foreign corporation may be required to include in income its pro rata share of the controlled foreign corporations increase in the average adjusted tax basis of any investment in U.S. property held by the controlled foreign corporation to the extent the controlled foreign corporation has positive current or accumulated earnings and profits (other than Subpart F income). This is the case even though the U.S. stockholder may not have received any actual cash distributions from the controlled foreign corporation. Since we are investors in foreign corporations, we could have significant amounts of Subpart F income. Although we intend to take reasonable tax planning measures to limit our tax exposure, we cannot assure you that we will be able to do so or that any of such measures will not be challenged.
In general, a U.S. corporation may claim a foreign tax credit against its U.S. federal income taxes for foreign income taxes paid or accrued. A U.S. corporation may also claim a credit for foreign income taxes paid or accrued on the earnings of certain foreign corporations paid to the U.S. corporation as a dividend. Our ability to claim a foreign tax credit for dividends received from our foreign subsidiaries is subject to various limitations. Some of our
businesses are located in countries with which the United States does not have income tax treaties. Because we lack treaty protection in these countries, we may be subject to high rates of withholding taxes on distributions and other payments from our businesses and may be subject to double taxation on our income. Limitations on our ability to claim a foreign tax credit, our lack of treaty protection in some countries, and our inability to offset losses in one foreign jurisdiction against income earned in another foreign jurisdiction could result in a high effective U.S. federal income tax rate on our earnings. Since substantially all of our revenue is generated abroad, including in jurisdictions that do not have tax treaties with the United States, these risks are proportionately greater for us than for companies that generate most of their revenue in the United States or in jurisdictions that have such treaties.
A change in tax laws of any country in which we operate could result in a higher tax expense or a higher effective tax rate on our worldwide earnings. We conduct our worldwide operations through various subsidiaries. Tax laws and regulations applicable to us and to such subsidiaries are highly complex and subject to interpretation. Consequently, we are subject to changing tax laws, treaties and regulations in and between countries in which we operate, including treaties between the United States and other nations. Our income tax expense is based upon our interpretation of the tax laws in effect in various countries at the time that the expense was incurred. A change in these tax laws, treaties or regulations, including those in and involving the United States, or in the interpretation thereof, or in the valuation of our deferred tax assets, could result in a materially higher tax expense or a higher effective tax rate on our worldwide earnings.
For example, on February 1, 2010, the U.S. Treasury Department released a general explanation of the Obama administrations tax proposals for its fiscal year 2011 budget, which describes a number of proposed amendments to the international provisions of the U.S. Internal Revenue Code that may be applicable to our business, including, but not limited to, proposals relating to the deferral of deduction for interest expense related to deferred foreign income and changes in the determination and calculation of foreign tax credits. It is possible that these proposals could result in changes to the existing U.S. tax laws that affect us. We are unable to predict whether any of these or other proposals will ultimately be enacted. Any such changes could negatively impact our business.
Factors Relating to Certain Financial Matters
Our substantial leverage could limit our ability to obtain additional financing and have other adverse effects. We seek to maintain our debt at levels that provide for attractive equity returns without assuming undue risk. In this regard, we strive to cause our operating subsidiaries to maintain their debt at levels that result in a consolidated debt balance that is between four and five times our consolidated operating cash flow (as defined in note 20 to our consolidated financial statements included in Part II of this report). As a result, we are highly leveraged. At December 31, 2009, our outstanding consolidated debt and capital lease obligations was $25.9 billion, of which $487.7 million is due over the next 12 months and $23.0 billion is due in 2013 or thereafter. J:COMs debt and capital lease obligations accounted for $424.4 million of the current portion of our debt and capital lease obligations at December 31, 2009. We believe that we have sufficient resources to repay or refinance the current portion of our debt and capital lease obligations and to fund our foreseeable liquidity requirements during the next 12 months. However, as our debt maturities grow in later years, we anticipate that we will seek to refinance or otherwise extend our debt maturities. In this regard, we completed refinancing transactions in 2009 and early 2010 that, among other matters, resulted in the extension of certain of our subsidiaries debt maturities. No assurance can be given that we will be able to complete additional refinancing transactions or otherwise extend our debt maturities in light of current market conditions. In this regard, it is not possible to predict how the current state of the credit and equity markets and the associated difficult economic conditions could impact our future financial position. Our ability to service or refinance our debt and to maintain compliance with the financial covenants in the credit agreements and indentures of certain of our subsidiaries is dependent primarily on our ability to maintain or increase our cash provided by operations and to achieve adequate returns on our capital expenditures and acquisitions. In this regard, if the operating cash flow of our subsidiary, UPC Broadband Holding, were to decline, we could be required to repay or limit the borrowings under the UPC Broadband Holding Bank Facility in order to maintain compliance with applicable covenants. Accordingly, if our cash provided by operations declines or we encounter other material liquidity requirements, we may be required to seek additional debt or equity financing in order to meet our debt obligations and other liquidity requirements as they come due. In addition, our current debt
levels may limit our ability to incur additional debt financing to fund working capital needs, acquisitions, capital expenditures, or other general corporate requirements. We can give no assurance that any additional debt or equity financing will be available on terms that are as favorable as the terms of our existing debt or at all. During 2009, we purchased $406.8 million (including direct acquisition costs) of LGI Series A and Series C common stock. Any cash used by our company in connection with any future purchases of our common stock would not be available for other purposes, including the repayment of debt.
Certain of our subsidiaries are subject to various debt instruments that contain restrictions on how we finance our operations and operate our businesses, which could impede our ability to engage in beneficial transactions. Certain of our subsidiaries are subject to significant financial and operating restrictions contained in outstanding credit agreements, indentures and similar instruments of indebtedness. These restrictions will affect, and in some cases significantly limit or prohibit, among other things, the ability of those subsidiaries to:
As a result of restrictions contained in these credit facilities, the companies party thereto, and their subsidiaries, could be unable to obtain additional capital in the future to:
In addition, most of the credit agreements to which these subsidiaries are parties include financial covenants that require them to maintain certain financial ratios, including ratios of total debt to operating cash flow and operating cash flow to interest expense. Their ability to meet these financial covenants may be affected by adverse economic, competitive or regulatory developments and other events beyond their control, and we cannot assure you that these financial covenants will be met. In the event of a default under such subsidiaries credit agreements or indentures, the lenders may accelerate the maturity of the indebtedness under those agreements or indentures, which could result in a default under other outstanding credit facilities or indentures. We cannot assure you that any of these subsidiaries will have sufficient assets to pay indebtedness outstanding under their credit agreements and indentures. Any refinancing of this indebtedness is likely to contain similar restrictive covenants.
We are exposed to interest rate risks. Shifts in such rates may adversely affect the debt service obligation of our subsidiaries. We are exposed to the risk of fluctuations in interest rates, primarily through the credit facilities of certain of our subsidiaries, which are indexed to EURIBOR, LIBOR or other base rates. Although we enter into various derivative transactions to manage exposure to movements in interest rates, there can be no assurance that we will be able to continue to do so at a reasonable cost.
We are subject to increasing operating costs and inflation risks which may adversely affect our earnings. While our operations attempt to increase our subscription rates to offset increases in operating costs, there is no assurance that they will be able to do so. In some countries in which we operate, our ability to increase subscription rates is subject to regulatory controls. Therefore, operating costs may rise faster than associated revenue, resulting in a material negative impact on our cash flow and net earnings (loss). We are also impacted by inflationary increases in salaries, wages, benefits and other administrative costs in certain of our markets.
Difficult economic conditions may reduce subscriber spending for our video, internet and telephony services and reduce our rate of growth of subscriber additions. Most of the countries in which we operate are experiencing difficult economic conditions. Because a substantial portion of our revenue is derived from residential subscribers who may be impacted by these conditions, it may be (1) more difficult to attract new subscribers, (2) more likely that certain of our subscribers will downgrade or disconnect their services and (3) more difficult to maintain or increase ARPUs at or from existing levels. Accordingly, our ability to increase, or in certain cases, maintain the revenue, RGUs, operating cash flow, operating cash flow margins and liquidity of our operating subsidiaries could be adversely affected to the extent that relevant economic environments remain weak or decline further. We currently are unable to predict the extent of any of these potential adverse effects.
We may not freely access the cash of our operating companies. Our operations are conducted through our subsidiaries. Our current sources of corporate liquidity include (1) our cash and cash equivalents, and (2) interest and dividend income received on our cash and cash equivalents and investments. From time to time, we also receive (1) proceeds in the form of distributions or loan repayments from our subsidiaries or affiliates, (2) proceeds upon the disposition of investments and other assets, (3) proceeds received in connection with the incurrence of debt or the issuance of equity securities, and (4) proceeds received upon the exercise of stock options. The ability of our operating subsidiaries to pay dividends or to make other payments or advances to us depends on their individual operating results and any statutory, regulatory or contractual restrictions to which they may be or may become subject and in some cases our receipt of such payments or advances may be limited due to tax considerations or the presence of noncontrolling interests. Most of our operating subsidiaries are subject to credit agreements or indentures that restrict sales of assets and prohibit or limit the payment of dividends or the making of distributions, loans or advances to stockholders and partners, including us. In addition, because these subsidiaries are separate and distinct legal entities they have no obligation to provide us funds for payment obligations, whether by dividends, distributions, loans or other payments. With respect to those companies in which we have less than a majority voting interest, we do not have sufficient voting control to cause those companies to pay dividends or make other payments or advances to any of their partners or stockholders, including us.
We are exposed to the risk of default by the counterparties to our financial instruments, undrawn debt facilities and cash investments. Although we seek to manage the credit risks associated with our financial instruments, cash and cash equivalents and undrawn debt facilities, we are exposed to the risk that our counterparties could default on their obligations to us. At December 31, 2009, our exposure to credit risk included (1) derivative assets with a fair value of $907.7 million, (2) cash and cash equivalent and restricted cash balances of $7,417.9 million and (3) aggregate undrawn debt facilities of $1,587.5 million, including CLP 13,837.5 million ($27.3 million) of commitments under VTRs senior secured credit facility for which we would be required to set aside an equivalent amount of cash collateral. While we currently have no specific concerns about the creditworthiness of any particular counterparty, we cannot rule out the possibility that one or more of our counterparties could fail or otherwise be unable to meet its obligations to us. Any such instance could have an adverse effect on our cash flows, results of operations and financial condition. It is not possible to predict how the current state of the credit and equity markets and the associated difficult economic conditions could impact our future financial position. In this regard, (1) additional financial institutions failures could (a) reduce amounts available under committed credit facilities and (b) adversely impact our ability to access cash deposited with any failed financial institution and (2) sustained or further tightening of the credit markets could adversely impact our ability to access debt financing on favorable terms, or at all. In addition, any weakness in the equity markets could make it less attractive to use our shares to satisfy contingent or other obligations, and sustained or increased competition, particularly in combination with weak economies, could adversely impact our cash flows and liquidity.
The liquidity and value of our interests in our subsidiaries may be adversely affected by stockholder agreements and similar agreements to which we are a party. We own equity interests in a variety of international broadband communications and video programming businesses. Certain of these equity interests are held pursuant to stockholder agreements, partnership agreements and other instruments and agreements that contain provisions that affect the liquidity, and therefore the realizable value, of those interests. Most of these agreements subject the transfer of such equity interests to consent rights or rights of first refusal of the other stockholders or partners. In certain cases, a change in control of the company or the subsidiary holding the equity interest will give rise to rights or remedies exercisable by other stockholders or partners. Some of our subsidiaries are parties to loan agreements that restrict changes in ownership of the borrower without the consent of the lenders. All of these provisions will restrict the ability to sell those equity interests and may adversely affect the prices at which those interests may be sold.
We may not report net earnings. We reported losses from continuing operations of $15.1 million, $618.5 million and $196.9 million during 2009, 2008 and 2007, respectively. In light of our historical financial performance, we cannot assure you that we will report net earnings in the near future or at all.
The loss of certain key personnel could harm our business. We have experienced employees at both the corporate and operational levels who possess substantial knowledge of our business and operations. We cannot assure you that we will be successful in retaining their services or that we would be successful in hiring and training suitable replacements without undue costs or delays. As a result, the loss of any of these key employees could cause significant disruptions in our business operations, which could materially adversely affect our results of operations.
John C. Malone has significant voting power with respect to corporate matters considered by our stockholders. John C. Malone beneficially owns outstanding shares of our common stock representing 38.5% of our aggregate voting power as of February 19, 2010. By virtue of Mr. Malones voting power in our company, as well as his position as Chairman of our board of directors, Mr. Malone may have significant influence over the outcome of any corporate transaction or other matters submitted to our stockholders for approval. Mr. Malones rights to vote or dispose of his equity interests in our company are not subject to any restrictions in favor of us other than as may be required by applicable law and except for customary transfer restrictions pursuant to equity award agreements.
It may be difficult for a third-party to acquire us, even if doing so may be beneficial to our stockholders. Certain provisions of our restated certificate of incorporation and bylaws may discourage, delay or prevent a change in control of our company that a stockholder may consider favorable. These provisions include the following:
Change in control provisions in our incentive plan and our convertible note indentures may also discourage, delay or prevent a change in control of our company even if such change of control would be in the best interests of our stockholders.
Our ability to exercise control over certain of our subsidiaries may be, in some cases, dependent upon the consent and co-operation of other equity participants who are not under our control. At December 31, 2009, we had operations in 14 countries through our subsidiaries. Our participation of ownership in each of these subsidiaries has varied from market to market, and in certain countries we have agreements with minority shareholders, which provide these minority shareholders with different rights and the ability to block transactions or decisions that we would otherwise undertake. Our ability to withdraw funds, including dividends, from our participation in, and to exercise management control over, certain of these subsidiaries and investments depends on the consent of the other equity participants in these subsidiaries. Although the terms of our investments vary, our operations may be affected if disagreements develop with other equity participants in our subsidiaries. Failure to resolve such disputes could restrict payments to us and have an adverse effect on our business operations.
During 2009, we leased our executive offices in Englewood, Colorado. All of our other real or personal property is owned or leased by our subsidiaries and affiliates.
Our subsidiaries and affiliates own or lease the fixed assets necessary for the operation of their respective businesses, including office space, transponder space, headend facilities, rights of way, cable television and telecommunications distribution equipment, telecommunications switches and customer premises equipment and other property necessary for their operations. The physical components of their broadband networks require maintenance and periodic upgrades to support the new services and products they introduce. Our management believes that our current facilities are suitable and adequate for our business operations for the foreseeable future.
From time to time, our subsidiaries and affiliates have become involved in litigation relating to claims arising out of their operations in the normal course of business. The following is a description of legal proceedings to which certain of our subsidiaries are parties outside the normal course of business that were material at the time originally reported.
Cignal. On April 26, 2002, Liberty Global Europe received a notice that certain former shareholders of Cignal Global Communications (Cignal) filed a lawsuit (the 2002 Cignal Action) against Liberty Global Europe in the District Court in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, claiming damages for Liberty Global Europes alleged failure to honor certain option rights that were granted to those shareholders pursuant to a shareholders agreement entered into in connection with the acquisition of Cignal by Liberty Global Europes subsidiary, Priority Telecom NV (Priority Telecom). The shareholders agreement provided that in the absence of an initial public offering (IPO), as defined in
the shareholders agreement, of shares of Priority Telecom by October 1, 2001, the Cignal shareholders would be entitled until October 30, 2001, to exchange their Priority Telecom shares into shares of Liberty Global Europe, with a cash equivalent value of $200 million in the aggregate, or cash at Liberty Global Europes discretion. Liberty Global Europe believes that it complied in full with its obligations to the Cignal shareholders through the successful completion of the IPO of Priority Telecom on September 27, 2001, and accordingly, the option rights were not exercisable.
On May 4, 2005, the District Court rendered its decision in the 2002 Cignal Action dismissing all claims of the former Cignal shareholders. On August 2, 2005, an appeal against the District Court decision was filed. Subsequently, when the grounds of appeal were filed in November 2005, nine individual plaintiffs, rather than all former Cignal shareholders, continued to pursue their claims. Based on the share ownership information provided by the nine plaintiffs, the damage claims remaining subject to the 2002 Cignal Action are approximately $28 million in the aggregate before statutory interest. A hearing on the appeal was held on May 22, 2007. On September 13, 2007, the Court of Appeals rendered its decision that no IPO within the meaning of the shareholders agreement had been realized and accordingly the plaintiffs should have been allowed to exercise their option rights. In the same decision, the Court of Appeals directed the plaintiffs to present more detailed calculations and substantiation of the damages they claimed to have suffered as a result of Liberty Global Europes nonperformance with respect to their option rights, and stated that Liberty Global Europe will be allowed to respond to the calculations submitted by the plaintiffs by separate statement. The Court of Appeals gave the parties leave to appeal to the Dutch Supreme Court and deferred all further decisions and actions, including the calculation and substantiation of the damages, pending such appeal. Liberty Global Europe filed the appeal with the Dutch Supreme Court on December 13, 2007. On February 15, 2008, the plaintiffs filed a conditional appeal against the decision with the Dutch Supreme Court, challenging certain aspects of the Court of Appeals decision in the event that Liberty Global Europes appeal is not dismissed by the Dutch Supreme Court. It is currently expected that the Dutch Supreme Court will render its decision during the second quarter of 2010.
On June 13, 2006, Liberty Global Europe, Priority Telecom, Euronext NV and Euronext Amsterdam NV were each served with a summons for a new action (the 2006 Cignal Action) purportedly on behalf of all other former Cignal shareholders and provisionally for the nine plaintiffs in the 2002 Cignal Action. The 2006 Cignal Action claims, among other things, that the listing of Priority Telecom on Euronext Amsterdam NV in September 2001 did not meet the requirements of the applicable listing rules and, accordingly, the IPO was not valid and did not satisfy Liberty Global Europes obligations to the Cignal shareholders. Aggregate claims of $200 million, plus statutory interest, are asserted in this action, which amount includes the amount provisionally claimed by the nine plaintiffs in the 2002 Cignal Action. A hearing in the 2006 Cignal Action took place on October 9, 2007, following which, on December 19, 2007, the District Court rendered its decision dismissing the plaintiffs claims against Liberty Global Europe and the other defendants. The plaintiffs appealed the District Courts decision to the Court of Appeals on March 12, 2008. On December 10, 2009, the Court of Appeals issued a partial decision holding that Priority Telecom was not liable to the Cignal shareholders, but postponed its decision with respect to the other defendants pending receipt of the decision of the Dutch Supreme Court.
The capitalized terms used in PART II of this Annual Report on Form 10-K have been defined in the notes to our consolidated financial statements. In the following text, the terms, we, our, our company and us may refer, as the context requires, to LGI or collectively to LGI and its predecessors and subsidiaries.
We have three series of common stock, LGI Series A, Series B and Series C, which trade on the NASDAQ Global Select Market under the symbols LBTYA, LBTYB and LBTYK, respectively. The following table sets forth the range of high and low sales prices of shares of LGI Series A, Series B and Series C common stock for the periods indicated:
As of February 19, 2010, there were 2,359, 130 and 2,403 record holders of LGI Series A, Series B and Series C common stock, respectively (which amounts do not include the number of shareholders whose shares are held of record by banks, brokerage houses or other institutions, but include each such institution as one record holder).
We have not paid any cash dividends on LGI Series A, Series B and Series C common stock, and we have no present intention of so doing. Payment of cash dividends, if any, in the future will be determined by our Board of Directors in light of our earnings, financial condition and other relevant considerations including applicable Delaware law. There are currently no contractual restrictions on our ability to pay dividends in cash or stock, although credit facilities to which certain of our subsidiaries are parties would restrict our ability to access their cash for, among other things, our payment of cash dividends.
Recent Sales of Unregistered Securities; Use of Proceeds from Registered Securities
The required information was previously reported in our Current Report on Form 8-K filed on November 16, 2009, as amended on November 19, 2009 by our Current Report on Form 8-K/A.
Issuer Purchase of Equity Securities
The following table sets forth information concerning our companys purchase of its own equity securities during the three months ended December 31, 2009:
In addition to the shares listed in the table above, 44,864 shares of LGI Series A common stock and 44,861 shares of LGI Series C common stock were surrendered during the fourth quarter of 2009 by certain of our officers and employees to pay withholding taxes and other deductions in connection with the release of restrictions on restricted stock.
Stock Performance Graph
The following graph compares the percentage change from June 8, 2004 to December 31, 2009 in the cumulative total stockholder return (assuming reinvestment of dividends) on LGI Series A common stock, LGI Series B common stock, LGI Series C common stock, the NASDAQ Composite Index and the NASDAQ Telecommunications Index. The graph assumes that $100 was invested on June 8, 2004. The stock prices of our common stock on June 8, 2004 and December 31, 2004 have been adjusted to give effect to our September 6, 2005 Series C dividend.
The following tables present selected historical financial information of LGI and its consolidated subsidiaries. The following selected financial data was derived from our consolidated financial statements as of and for the years ended December 31, 2009, 2008, 2007, 2006 and 2005. This information is only a summary, and should be read together with our Managements Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations and consolidated financial statements included elsewhere herein.
The following discussion and analysis is intended to assist in providing an understanding of our financial condition, changes in financial condition and results of operations and should be read in conjunction with our consolidated financial statements. This discussion is organized as follows:
Unless otherwise indicated, convenience translations into U.S. dollars are calculated as of December 31, 2009.
We are an international provider of video, voice and broadband internet services with consolidated broadband communications and/or DTH satellite operations at December 31, 2009 in 14 countries, primarily in Europe, Japan and Chile. Through our indirect wholly-owned subsidiary UPC Holding, we provide video, voice and broadband internet services in nine European countries and in Chile. The European broadband communications operations of UPC Broadband Holding, a subsidiary of UPC Holding, are collectively referred to as the UPC Broadband Division. UPC Broadband Holdings broadband communications operations in Chile are provided through VTR. Through our indirect majority ownership interest in Telenet (50.5% at December 31, 2009), we provide broadband communications services in Belgium. Through our indirect controlling ownership interest in J:COM (37.8% at December 31, 2009), we provided broadband communications and, to a lesser extent, programming services in Japan through February 17, 2010. Through our indirect majority ownership interest in Austar (55.0% at December 31, 2009), we provide DTH satellite services in Australia. We also have (i) consolidated broadband communications operations in Puerto Rico and (ii) consolidated interests in certain programming businesses in Europe and Argentina. Our consolidated programming interests in Europe are primarily held through Chellomedia, which also owns or manages investments in various other businesses, primarily in Europe. Certain of Chellomedias subsidiaries and affiliates provide programming services to certain of our broadband communications operations, primarily in Europe.
Our analog video service offerings include basic programming and, in some markets, expanded basic programming. We tailor both our basic channel line-up and our additional channel offerings to each system according to culture, demographics, programming preferences and local regulation. Our digital video service offerings include basic and premium programming and incremental product and service offerings such as enhanced pay-per-view programming (including video-on-demand and near video-on-demand), digital video recorders and high definition programming.
We offer broadband internet services in all of our broadband communications markets. Our residential subscribers generally access the internet via cable modems connected to their personal computers at various speeds depending on the tier of service selected. We determine pricing for each different tier of broadband internet service through analysis of speed, data limits, market conditions and other factors. We currently offer ultra high-speed internet services in most of our European markets with download speeds ranging up to 120 Mbps. We expect to continue to expand the availability of ultra high-speed internet services throughout our European broadband communications markets.
We offer voice-over-internet-protocol, or VoIP telephony services in all of our broadband communications markets. In Austria, Belgium, Chile, Hungary and the Netherlands, we also provide circuit-switched telephony services. In select markets, including Belgium and Australia, we also offer mobile telephony services using third-party networks.
As further described in note 4 to our consolidated financial statements, we have completed a number of transactions that impact the comparability of our 2009, 2008 and 2007 results of operations. Certain of the more significant of these transactions are listed below:
In addition to the transactions listed above, we completed a number of less significant acquisitions in Europe and Japan during 2009, 2008 and 2007.
Subsequent to December 31, 2009, we completed the Unitymedia Acquisition and sold the J:COM Disposal Group. We did not meet the requirements to classify the J:COM Disposal Group as held for sale at December 31, 2009. Accordingly, the financial condition, results of operations and cash flows of the J:COM Disposal Group are reflected as continuing operations in (i) our consolidated financial statements and (ii) our operating statistics, results of operations, cash flows and financial condition that we present and discuss below. The sale of the J:COM Disposal Group and the Unitymedia Acquisition will have a significant impact on our consolidated financial statements. For additional information, see note 22 to our consolidated financial statements.
As further discussed in note 5 to our consolidated financial statements, our consolidated financial statements have been reclassified to present UPC Slovenia as a discontinued operation. In the following discussion and analysis, the operating statistics, results of operations, cash flows and financial condition that we present and discuss are those of our continuing operations unless otherwise indicated.
From a strategic perspective, we are seeking to build broadband communications and video programming businesses that have strong prospects for future growth in revenue and operating cash flow (as defined in note 20 to our consolidated financial statements). As discussed further under Liquidity and Capital Resources Capitalization below, we also seek to maintain our debt at levels that provide for attractive equity returns without assuming undue risk.
We focus on achieving organic revenue and customer growth in our broadband communications operations by developing and marketing bundled entertainment and information and communications services, and extending and upgrading the quality of our networks where appropriate. As we use the term, organic growth excludes foreign currency translation effects (FX) and the estimated impact of acquisitions. While we seek to obtain new customers, we also seek to maximize the average revenue we receive from each household by increasing the penetration of our digital cable, broadband internet and telephony services with existing customers through product bundling and upselling, or by migrating analog cable customers to digital cable services that include various incremental service offerings, such as video-on-demand, digital video recorders and high definition programming. We plan to continue to employ this strategy to achieve organic revenue and customer growth.
Through our subsidiaries and affiliates, we are the largest international broadband communications operator in terms of subscribers. At December 31, 2009, we owned and operated networks that passed 34,782,600 homes and served 27,148,000 revenue generating units (RGUs), consisting of 15,190,300 video subscribers, 6,727,600 broadband internet subscribers and 5,230,100 telephony subscribers.
Including the effects of acquisitions, our continuing operations added a total of 941,700 RGUs during 2009. Excluding the effects of acquisitions (RGUs added on the acquisition date), but including post-acquisition RGU additions, our continuing operations added 931,700 RGUs during 2009, as compared to 1,045,300 RGUs that were added on an organic basis during 2008. The organic RGU growth during 2009 is attributable to the growth of our (i) digital cable services, which added 1,569,200 RGUs, (ii) telephony services, which added 609,600 RGUs,
(iii) broadband internet services, which added 581,600 RGUs and (iv) DTH video services, which added 36,200 RGUs. The growth of our digital cable, telephony, broadband internet and DTH video services was partially offset by (i) a decline in our analog cable RGUS of 1,850,400 and (ii) a decline in our multi-channel multi-point (microwave) distribution system (MMDS) video RGUs of 14,500.
We are experiencing significant competition in all of our broadband communications markets, particularly in Europe. This significant competition, together with the effects of weakened economic conditions and the maturation of certain of our markets, has contributed to:
In general, our ability to increase or maintain the fees we receive for our services is limited by competitive, economic and, to a lesser extent, regulatory factors. In this regard, most of our broadband communications markets experienced declines in ARPU from broadband internet and telephony services during 2009, as compared to 2008. These declines were largely mitigated by (i) the impact of increased digital cable RGUs and other improvements in our RGU mix and (ii) the implementation of rate increases for analog cable and, to a lesser extent, other product offerings in certain markets.
We continue to face difficult economic environments in most of the countries in which we operate. These economic environments have an adverse impact on our ability to (i) attract new subscribers, (ii) prevent certain of our subscribers from downgrading or disconnecting their services and (iii) maintain or increase ARPUs. Accordingly, our ability to increase, or in certain cases maintain, the revenue, RGUs, operating cash flow, operating cash flow margins and liquidity of our operating subsidiaries could be adversely affected to the extent that relevant economic environments remain weak or decline further. We are currently unable to predict the extent of any of these potential adverse effects.
Over the next few years, we believe that we will continue to be challenged to maintain or improve our organic revenue, RGU and operating cash flow growth rates as we expect that competition will remain strong and that certain of our markets will continue to mature. However, with advanced digital cable offerings and ultra high-speed
broadband internet offerings available in most of our markets, we believe that we are well positioned to meet the competition and that we will continue to show growth. Along these lines, we expect that the growth of our broadband communications subsidiaries (including Unitymedia, but excluding J:COM) during this time frame will primarily result from increases in RGUs, as we expect that ARPU will remain relatively unchanged. In this regard, we expect that increases in digital cable, broadband internet and telephony RGUs will more than offset decreases in our analog cable RGUs, and that the positive impact on ARPU from improvements in our product mix, due primarily to the migration of cable subscribers from analog to digital services, will be largely offset by the negative impacts of decreases in our telephony and, to a lesser extent, our broadband internet ARPU. We also believe that during this time frame we will see (i) modest improvements in OCF margins and (ii) declines in aggregate capital expenditures and capital lease additions, as a percentage of revenue. As a result of the competitive and economic environments in which we operate, we also expect that we will continue to be challenged to maintain or improve current subscriber retention rates. To the extent that we experience higher subscriber disconnect rates, it will likely be more difficult to control certain components of our operating, marketing and capital costs. Our expectations with respect to the items discussed in this paragraph are subject to competitive, economic, technological and regulatory developments and other factors outside of our control. Accordingly, no assurance can be given that actual results in future periods will not differ materially from our expectations.
The video, broadband internet and telephony businesses in which we operate are capital intensive. Significant capital expenditures are required to add customers to our networks, including expenditures for equipment and labor costs. Significant competition, the introduction of new technologies or adverse regulatory or economic developments could cause us to decide to undertake previously unplanned upgrades of our broadband communications networks in the impacted markets. In addition, no assurance can be given that any future upgrades will generate a positive return or that we will have adequate capital available to finance such future upgrades. If we are unable to, or elect not to, pay for costs associated with adding new customers, expanding or upgrading our networks or making our other planned or unplanned capital expenditures, our growth could be limited and our competitive position could be harmed. For information regarding our capital expenditures, see Liquidity and Capital Resources Consolidated Cash Flow Statements, below.
Results of Operations
As noted under Overview above, the comparability of our operating results during 2009, 2008 and 2007 is affected by acquisitions. In the following discussion, we quantify the impact of acquisitions on our operating results. The acquisition impact represents our estimate of the difference between the operating results of the periods under comparison that is attributable to an acquisition. In general, we base our estimate of the acquisition impact on an acquired entitys operating results during the first three months following the acquisition date such that changes from those operating results in subsequent periods are considered to be organic changes.
Changes in foreign currency exchange rates have a significant impact on our reported operating results as all of our operating segments, except for Puerto Rico, have functional currencies other than the U.S. dollar. Our primary exposure to FX risk during 2009 was to the euro and the Japanese yen as 34.6% and 32.2% of our U.S. dollar revenue during 2009 was derived from subsidiaries whose functional currency is the euro and the Japanese yen, respectively. In addition, our reported operating results are impacted by changes in the exchange rates for the Swiss franc, the Chilean peso, the Australian dollar and other local currencies in Europe. The portions of the changes in the various components of our results of operations that are attributable to changes in FX are highlighted under Discussion and Analysis of our Reportable Segments and Discussion and Analysis of our Consolidated Operating Results below. For information concerning our foreign currency risks and the applicable foreign currency exchange rates in effect for the periods covered by this Annual Report, see Quantitative and Qualitative Disclosures about Market Risk Foreign Currency Risk below.
The amounts presented and discussed below represent 100% of each operating segments revenue and operating cash flow. As we have the ability to control Telenet, VTR, Austar, and, for the periods presented, had the ability to control J:COM, we consolidate 100% of the revenue and expenses of these entities in our consolidated statements of operations despite the fact that third parties own significant interests in these entities. The
noncontrolling owners interests in the operating results of Telenet, J:COM, VTR, Austar and other less significant majority owned subsidiaries are reflected in net earnings attributable to noncontrolling interests in our consolidated statements of operations.
Discussion and Analysis of our Reportable Segments
All of the reportable segments set forth below derive their revenue primarily from broadband communications services, including video, voice and broadband internet services. Certain segments also provide B2B services and J:COM provides certain programming distribution services. At December 31, 2009, our operating segments in the UPC Broadband Division provided services in nine European countries. Our Other Western Europe segment includes our operating segments in Austria and Ireland. Our Central and Eastern Europe segment includes our operating segments in the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Romania and Slovakia. Telenet, J:COM, VTR and Austar provide broadband communications services in Belgium, Japan, Chile and Australia, respectively. Our corporate and other category includes (i) less significant operating segments that provide broadband communications services in Puerto Rico and video programming and other services in Europe and Argentina and (ii) our corporate category. Intersegment eliminations primarily represent the elimination of intercompany transactions between our broadband communications and programming operations, primarily in Europe.
During 2009, we made certain changes to our reportable segments. Segment information for all periods presented has been reclassified to reflect these changes. For additional information concerning these changes and for other information concerning our reportable segments, including a discussion of our performance measures and a reconciliation of total segment operating cash flow to our earnings (loss) from continuing operations before income taxes, see note 20 to our consolidated financial statements.
The tables presented below in this section provide a separate analysis of each of the line items that comprise operating cash flow (revenue, operating expenses and SG&A expenses, excluding allocable stock-based compensation expense in accordance with our definition of operating cash flow) as well as an analysis of operating cash flow by reportable segment for (i) 2009 as compared to 2008 and (ii) 2008 as compared to 2007. These tables present (i) the amounts reported by each of our reportable segments for the comparative periods, (ii) the U.S. dollar change and percentage change from period to period and (iii) the percentage change from period to period, after removing FX. The comparisons that exclude FX assume that exchange rates remained constant at the prior year rate during the comparative periods that are included in each table. As discussed under Quantitative and Qualitative Disclosures about Market Risk below, we have significant exposure to movements in foreign currency exchange rates. We also provide a table showing the operating cash flow margins of our reportable segments for 2009, 2008 and 2007 at the end of this section.
The revenue of our reportable segments includes amounts received from subscribers for ongoing services, installation fees, advertising revenue, mobile telephony revenue, channel carriage fees, telephony interconnect fees, late fees, programming distribution revenue and amounts received for B2B services. Consistent with the presentation of our revenue categories in note 20 to our consolidated financial statements, we use the term subscription revenue in the following discussion to refer to amounts received from subscribers for ongoing services, excluding installation fees, late fees and mobile telephony revenue.
The rates charged for certain video services offered by our broadband communications operations in Europe and Chile are subject to rate regulation. Additionally, in Europe, our ability to bundle or discount our services may be constrained if we are held to be dominant with respect to any product we offer. The amounts we charge and incur with respect to telephony interconnection fees are also subject to regulatory oversight in many of our markets. Adverse outcomes from rate regulation or other regulatory initiatives could have a significant negative impact on our ability to maintain or increase our revenue.
Revenue of our Reportable Segments
Revenue 2009 compared to 2008
The Netherlands. The Netherlands revenue decreased $41.4 million or 3.5% during 2009, as compared to 2008. Excluding the effects of FX, the Netherlands revenue increased $20.3 million or 1.7%. This increase is attributable to an increase in subscription revenue that was partially offset by a decrease in non-subscription revenue. The increase in subscription revenue during 2009 reflects the net effect of (i) the positive impacts of higher ARPU and a slightly higher number of average RGUs and (ii) the impact of a $7.9 million decrease that is primarily related to favorable analog cable rate settlements with certain municipalities that we recognized in 2008, with $5.3 million of the decrease occurring in the fourth quarter. ARPU increased during 2009, as compared to 2008, as the positive impacts of (i) an improvement in the Netherlands RGU mix, attributable to higher proportions of digital cable, telephony and broadband internet RGUs, (ii) January 2009 price increases for certain video, broadband internet and telephony services and (iii) growth in the Netherlands digital cable services, including increased revenue from customers selecting higher-priced tiers of service and premium digital services and products were only partially offset by the negative impacts of (a) competition, (b) lower ARPU from telephony services, due primarily to lower telephony call volumes, and (c) a higher proportion of customers selecting lower-priced tiers of broadband internet services. The slight increase in the average number of RGUs during 2009 is attributable to the net effect of increases in the average numbers of digital cable, telephony and broadband internet RGUs and a decline in the average number of analog RGUs. The decline in the Netherlands average number of analog cable RGUs is primarily attributable to (i) the effects of significant competition from the incumbent telecommunications operator in the Netherlands and (ii) the migration of analog cable customers to digital cable services. We expect that we will continue to face significant competition from the incumbent telecommunications operator in future periods. The decrease in the Netherlands non-subscription revenue is primarily attributable to (i) a decrease in revenue from B2B services, due largely to the loss of certain B2B contracts during the latter part of 2008, and (ii) lower interconnect revenue, due largely to January 1, 2009 and July 1, 2009 reductions in termination rates imposed by regulatory authorities.
For information concerning potential adverse impacts on ARPU and revenue from analog cable services as a result of regulatory developments in the Netherlands, see note 19 to our consolidated financial statements.
Switzerland. Switzerlands revenue increased $3.6 million or 0.4% during 2009, as compared to 2008. Excluding the effects of FX, Switzerlands revenue increased $6.1 million or 0.6%. This increase is attributable to an increase in subscription revenue that was partially offset by a slight decrease in non-subscription revenue. The increase in subscription revenue is due to an increase in the average number of RGUs and slightly higher ARPU. The increase in the average number of RGUs during 2009 is attributable to the net effect of increases in the average numbers of digital cable, broadband internet and telephony RGUs and a decline in the average number of analog cable RGUs. The decline in the average number of Switzerlands analog cable RGUs is primarily attributable to (i) the migration of analog cable subscribers to digital cable services and (ii) the effects of competition. During 2009, competition in Switzerland contributed to a net organic decline in total RGUs, as declines in analog cable and telephony RGUs were only partially offset by increases in digital cable and broadband internet RGUs. ARPU increased slightly during 2009, as compared to 2008, as the positive impacts of (i) an improvement in Switzerlands RGU mix, attributable to higher proportions of digital cable, broadband internet and telephony RGUs, and (ii) increased revenue from premium digital services and products more than offset the negative impacts of (a) competition, (b) lower ARPU from telephony services, due primarily to lower telephony call volumes, and (c) lower ARPU from broadband internet services, due primarily to an increase in the proportion of broadband internet subscribers selecting lower-priced tiers of service. The negative effect of the decline in Switzerlands telephony ARPU contributed to an organic decline in revenue from telephony services during 2009, as compared to 2008. The slight decrease in Switzerlands non-subscription revenue is primarily attributable to the net effect of (i) lower revenue from B2B construction services and equipment sales and (ii) an increase in revenue from late fees.
Other Western Europe. Other Western Europes revenue decreased $58.5 million or 6.5% during 2009, as compared to 2008. This decrease is net of an increase of $2.2 million attributable to the impact of acquisitions. Excluding the effects of acquisitions and FX, Other Western Europes revenue decreased $14.6 million or 1.6%. This decrease is attributable to a decrease in subscription revenue that was only partially offset by an increase in non-subscription revenue. The decrease in subscription revenue during 2009 is due to the net effect of lower ARPU and a higher average number of RGUs. The decline in subscription revenue in Other Western Europe, which is largely attributable to the significant competition we are experiencing in Austria and Ireland, includes declines in (i) revenue from broadband internet and telephony services in Austria, and (ii) revenue from video services in Ireland. The declines in Austrias revenue from broadband internet and telephony services led to declines in Austrias subscription and overall revenue during 2009. ARPU decreased in Other Western Europe during 2009, as compared to 2008, due primarily to the negative impacts of (i) competition, (ii) a higher proportion of subscribers selecting lower-priced tiers of digital cable service and fewer premium digital products and services, (iii) a higher proportion of customers selecting lower-priced tiers of broadband internet services and, in Austria, telephony services (including usage-based calling plans) and (iv) in Austria, lower telephony call volumes and an increase in the proportion of subscribers selecting VoIP telephony service, which generally is priced lower than Austrias circuit-switched telephony service. These negative factors were partially offset by the positive impacts of (a) an improvement in RGU mix, primarily attributable to higher proportions of digital cable RGUs, (b) rate increases for certain analog cable, digital cable and broadband internet services and (c) higher telephony call volume and a higher proportion of customers selecting higher-priced tiers of telephony services in Ireland. The increase in the average number of RGUs is attributable to increases in the average numbers of digital cable, telephony and broadband internet RGUs that were only partially offset by decreases in the average numbers of analog cable and, to a lesser extent, MMDS RGUs. The decline in the average number of analog cable RGUs is primarily attributable to (i) the migration of analog cable customers to digital cable services and (ii) the effects of competition. The negative impact of lower average numbers of analog cable and MMDS RGUs contributed to an organic decline in the average number of video RGUs in Other Western Europe during 2009, as compared to 2008. During the fourth quarter of 2009, Ireland experienced a sequential increase in revenue from premium digital services, due largely to steps taken during the latter part of 2009 to combat signal theft. Other Western Europes non-subscription revenue increased during 2009, primarily attributable to increases in (i) B2B revenue, due primarily to growth in the number of business broadband internet and telephony customers, and (ii) installation revenue.
Central and Eastern Europe. Central and Eastern Europes revenue decreased $179.8 million or 13.9% during 2009, as compared to 2008. This decrease is net of a $2.1 million increase attributable to the impact of acquisitions. Excluding the effects of acquisitions and FX, Central and Eastern Europes revenue increased $28.0 million or
2.2%. Most of this increase is attributable to an increase in subscription revenue as the positive impact of a higher average number of RGUs was only partially offset by the negative impact of a decrease in ARPU. The increase in the average number of RGUs is primarily attributable to increases in the average numbers of digital cable, broadband internet and telephony RGUs that were only partially offset by a decline in the average number of analog cable RGUs. The decline in the average number of analog cable RGUs, which is attributable primarily to (i) the migration of analog cable subscribers to digital cable services and (ii) the effects of competition, led to a decline in the average number of total video RGUs in Central and Eastern Europe during 2009, as compared to 2008. This decline includes average video RGU decreases in Romania, Hungary, the Czech Republic and, to a lesser extent, Slovakia that were only partially offset by a small increase in Poland. The decline in average video RGUs in Romania, Hungary, the Czech Republic and Slovakia led to organic declines in revenue from video services in each of these countries during 2009, as compared to 2008. ARPU decreased in our Central and Eastern Europe segment during 2009, as the negative impacts of (i) competition, (ii) a higher proportion of broadband internet and video subscribers selecting lower-priced tiers of service, (iii) lower analog and digital cable revenue from premium video services and products and (iv) lower telephony call volumes and other changes in telephony subscriber calling patterns were only partially offset by the positive impacts of (a) an improvement in RGU mix, primarily attributable to higher proportions of digital cable and broadband internet RGUs, and (b) rate increases for certain video and telephony services in several countries. Decreases in ARPU from broadband internet services in Hungary and Slovakia led to organic declines in revenue from broadband internet services in each of these countries during 2009, as compared to 2008. Central and Eastern Europes non-subscription revenue increased during 2009, as compared to 2008, as a decrease in revenue from B2B services in Romania was more than offset by (i) an increase in interconnect revenue, (ii) higher installation revenue and (iii) a net increase resulting from individually insignificant changes in other non-subscription revenue categories.
Although competition is a factor throughout Central and Eastern Europe, we are experiencing particularly intense competition in Hungary and Romania. In Hungary, competition, including competition from a competitor that has overbuilt nearly half of Hungarys broadband communications network, has contributed to declines during the quarter and full year ended December 31, 2009 in (i) video, broadband internet and overall revenue and (ii) ARPU, each as compared to the corresponding period in 2008. In addition, competition has contributed to a decline in the total number of RGUs in Hungary during 2009. In Romania, competition contributed to declines in video revenue and overall revenue during 2009, as compared to 2008. In response to the competition in Hungary and Romania, we have implemented aggressive pricing and marketing strategies. We expect that we will continue to experience significant competition in future periods in Hungary, Romania and other markets within Central and Eastern Europe.
Telenet (Belgium). Telenets revenue increased $176.8 million or 11.7% during 2009, as compared to 2008. This increase includes $134.0 million attributable to the impact of the October 1, 2008 Interkabel Acquisition and another less significant acquisition. Excluding the effects of these acquisitions and FX, Telenets revenue increased $126.7 million or 8.4%. This increase is attributable to an increase in subscription revenue that resulted from (i) an increase in ARPU and (ii) a higher average number of RGUs. ARPU increased during 2009, as compared to 2008, as the positive impacts of (i) an improvement in Telenets RGU mix, primarily attributable to higher proportions of digital cable, broadband internet and telephony RGUs, (ii) an increase in revenue from premium digital cable services, such as video-on-demand, (iii) an increase in revenue from set-top box rentals due to Telenets increased emphasis since the second quarter of 2008 on the rental, as opposed to the sale, of set-top boxes, and (iv) February 2009 price increases for digital and analog cable services and a March 2009 price increase for VoIP telephony services were only partially offset by the negative impacts of (a) competition, (b) lower ARPU from broadband internet services, due primarily to an increase in the proportion of customers selecting lower-priced tiers of service, and (c) lower ARPU from telephony services, due primarily to lower call volume and a change in subscriber calling patterns. The increase in the average number of RGUs primarily is attributable to increases in the average numbers of digital cable, broadband internet and telephony RGUs that were only partially offset by a decline in the average number of analog cable RGUs. The decline in the average number of analog cable RGUs is primarily attributable to (i) the migration of analog cable subscribers to digital cable services and (ii) the effects of competition. Telenets non-subscription revenue decreased slightly during 2009, as compared to 2008, due primarily to the net effect of (i) an increase in installation revenue of $16.8 million, primarily attributable to a higher number of digital cable
installations, (ii) a decrease in revenue from interconnect fees of $14.2 million, (iii) an increase in mobile telephony revenue and (iv) lower revenue from set-top box sales. The lower revenue from interconnect fees is due primarily to the January 1, 2009 reduction in fixed-line termination rates imposed by regulatory authorities. No further reductions in these termination rates are anticipated.
J:COM (Japan). J:COMs revenue increased $717.4 million or 25.1% during 2009, as compared to 2008. This increase includes $236.8 million attributable to the aggregate impact of the Mediatti and other less significant acquisitions. Excluding the effects of these acquisitions and FX, J:COMs revenue increased $145.4 million or 5.1%. This increase is primarily attributable to an increase in subscription revenue that resulted from the net effect of (i) a higher average number of RGUs and (ii) slightly lower ARPU. The increase in the average number of RGUs is attributable to increases in the average numbers of digital cable, broadband internet and telephony RGUs that were only partially offset by a decline in the average number of analog cable RGUs. ARPU decreased slightly during 2009, as the positive impacts of (i) an improvement in J:COMs RGU mix, primarily attributable to a higher proportion of digital cable RGUs, (ii) an increase in revenue from premium digital cable services and (iii) an increase in the proportion of broadband internet subscribers selecting higher-priced tiers of service were more than offset by the negative impacts of (a) increased bundling discounts and (b) lower telephony call volume. J:COMs non-subscription revenue increased slightly during 2009, as compared to 2008, primarily attributable to the net effect of (i) an increase in poor reception compensation or PRC revenue of $21.4 million, (ii) a decline in revenue from J:COMs B2B construction services, (iii) lower installation revenue, (iv) an increase in programming revenue and (v) a net increase resulting from individually insignificant changes in other non-subscription revenue categories. Pursuant to its PRC arrangements, J:COM receives compensation from third parties to provide rebroadcasting services to viewers (at no cost to the viewers) whose reception of free over-the-air broadcast channels has been obstructed by obstacles constructed by these third parties. The increase in J:COMs PRC revenue during 2009 is primarily attributable to revenue earned pursuant to a July 2009 agreement that provides for J:COM to receive cash consideration from a third party in exchange for J:COMs assumption of the third partys obligation to provide rebroadcasting services free of charge to residents of certain buildings through July 2011.
VTR (Chile). VTRs revenue decreased $13.1 million or 1.8% during 2009, as compared to 2008. Excluding the effects of FX, VTRs revenue increased $40.6 million or 5.7%. Most of this increase is attributable to an increase in subscription revenue that resulted primarily from a higher average number of RGUs. The increase in the average number of RGUs is attributable to increases in the average numbers of digital cable, broadband internet and telephony RGUs that were only partially offset by a decline in the average number of analog cable RGUs. ARPU remained relatively constant during 2009 as (i) an improvement in VTRs RGU mix, attributable to a higher proportion of digital cable and broadband internet RGUs, and (ii) increases due to various inflation and other price adjustments for certain video, broadband internet and telephony services were offset by (a) a decrease due to competition, particularly from the incumbent telecommunications operator in Chile, and (b) a decrease due to higher proportions of subscribers selecting lower-priced tiers of video, broadband internet and telephony services. A decline in VTRs telephony ARPU contributed to an organic decline in revenue from telephony services during 2009, as compared to 2008.
Austar (Australia). Austars revenue decreased $0.8 million or 0.1% during 2009, as compared to 2008. Excluding the effects of FX, Austars revenue increased $36.1 million or 6.8%. This increase is attributable to an increase in subscription revenue that resulted from (i) a higher average number of DTH RGUs during 2009 and (ii) the positive impact of higher ARPU. The increase in ARPU is primarily attributable to (i) a March 2009 price increase for certain DTH video services and (ii) higher penetration of premium services, such as personal video recorders. Austars non-subscription revenue decreased slightly during 2009, as compared to 2008, as a decline in revenue from mobile telephony services was partially offset by a net increase resulting from individually insignificant changes in other non-subscription revenue categories.
Revenue 2008 compared to 2007
The Netherlands. The Netherlands revenue increased $120.5 million or 11.4% during 2008, as compared to 2007. Excluding the effects of foreign FX, the Netherlands revenue increased $41.4 million or 3.9%. This increase is attributable to an increase in subscription revenue that was partially offset by a decrease in non-subscription revenue. The increase in subscription revenue is due to (i) higher ARPU and (ii) a higher number of average RGUs during 2008, as compared to 2007. ARPU was higher during 2008, as the positive impacts of (i) an improvement in the Netherlands RGU mix, attributable to a higher proportion of telephony, digital cable and broadband internet RGUs, (ii) January 2008 price increases for certain video, broadband internet and telephony services and (iii) growth in the Netherlands digital cable services, including increased revenue from premium digital services and products, were only partially offset by the negative impacts of (a) increased competition, (b) changes in telephony subscriber calling patterns and an increase in the proportion of telephony subscribers selecting fixed-rate calling plans and (c) an increase in the proportion of customers selecting lower-priced tiers of broadband internet services. The increase in average RGUs is attributable to an increase in average telephony, digital cable and broadband internet RGUs that was only partially offset by a decline in average analog cable RGUs. The decline in the Netherlands average analog cable RGUs is primarily attributable to (i) the migration of certain analog cable customers to digital cable services and (ii) the effects of significant competition from the incumbent telecommunications operator in the Netherlands. We expect that we will continue to face significant competition from the incumbent telecommunications operator in future periods. The increase in subscription revenue during 2008 also includes the impact of a $6.8 million increase that is primarily related to favorable analog cable rate settlements with certain municipalities, with $4.5 million of the impact relating to the fourth quarter of 2008. The decrease in the Netherlands non-subscription revenue is primarily attributable to (i) a decrease in revenue from B2B services, as increased competition has led to the loss of certain B2B contracts, and (ii) lower revenue from installation fees as a result of higher discounting and lower subscriber additions.
Switzerland. Switzerlands revenue increased $143.1 million or 16.4% during 2008, as compared to 2007. Excluding the effects of FX, Switzerlands revenue increased $42.7 million or 4.9%. This increase is attributable to an increase in subscription revenue, due to (i) a higher number of average RGUs and (ii) higher ARPU during 2008. The increase in average RGUs is attributable to increases in average digital cable, broadband internet and telephony RGUs that were only partially offset by a decline in average analog cable RGUs. ARPU was higher during 2008, as
the positive impacts of (i) an improvement in Switzerlands RGU mix, attributable to a higher proportion of digital cable, telephony and broadband internet RGUs, (ii) a January 2008 price increase for analog and digital cable services and (iii) Switzerlands digital migration efforts were only partially offset by the negative impacts of (a) increased competition, (b) lower telephony call volume, (c) an increase in the proportion of customers selecting lower-priced tiers of broadband internet services and (d) a lower-priced tier of digital cable services and a decrease in the rental price charged for digital cable set-top boxes that Switzerland began offering in April 2007 to comply with the regulatory framework established by the Swiss Price Regulator in November 2006. Switzerlands non-subscription revenue remained relatively constant during 2008, as a decrease in interconnect revenue was offset by a net increase resulting from individually insignificant changes in other components of non-subscription revenue. The decrease in interconnect revenue primarily is attributable to reductions in interconnect tariffs that were imposed by a regulatory authority during the fourth quarter of 2008. These tariff reductions, which were retroactive to January 1, 2007, resulted in decreases in interconnect revenue of $2.2 million for the year ended December 31, 2008 and $4.4 million for the fourth quarter of 2008, each as compared to the corresponding prior year period.
Other Western Europe. Other Western Europes revenue increased $83.5 million or 10.3% during 2008, as compared to 2007. This increase includes $22.0 million attributable to the impacts of the October 2007 Tirol acquisition and another less significant acquisition. Excluding the effects of these acquisitions and FX, Other Western Europes revenue increased $0.5 million or 0.1%. This increase is attributable to an increase in subscription revenue, as the positive impact of a higher number of average RGUs during 2008, as compared to 2007, was only partially offset by lower ARPU. The increase in Other Western Europes average RGUs is attributable to increases in the average number of digital cable, telephony and broadband internet RGUs that were only partially offset by declines in average analog cable and MMDS video RGUs. ARPU decreased during 2008, as the positive impacts of (i) an improvement in Other Western Europes RGU mix, primarily attributable to a higher proportion of digital cable RGUs, (ii) January 2008 price increases for certain analog cable, digital cable and MMDS video services and (iii) a July 2008 price increase in Ireland for certain broadband internet services were more than offset by the negative impacts of (a) increased competition, (b) lower telephony call volume and (c) an increase in the proportion of subscribers selecting VoIP telephony service, which generally is priced lower than circuit-switched telephony service. In Austria, subscription revenue decreased during 2008, as compared to 2007. This decrease, which is largely related to the significant competition we are experiencing in Austria, includes declines in revenue from broadband internet and telephony services that were only partially offset by an increase in revenue from video services. Other Western Europes non-subscription revenue decreased slightly during 2008, as compared to 2007, as a decrease in installation revenue in Austria was only partially offset by a net increase resulting from individually insignificant changes in other components of Other Western Europes nonsubscription revenue.
Central and Eastern Europe. Central and Eastern Europes revenue increased $159.9 million or 14.1% during 2008, as compared to 2007. This increase includes $5.9 million attributable to the impact of acquisitions. Excluding the effects of acquisitions and FX, Central and Eastern Europes revenue increased $33.7 million or 3.0%. Most of this increase is attributable to an increase in subscription revenue as a result of the positive impact of higher average RGUs during 2008 that was only partially offset by the negative impact of lower ARPU. The increase in average RGUs is attributable to increases in average broadband internet RGUs (mostly in Poland, Romania, Hungary and the Czech Republic) and telephony RGUs (mostly related to the expansion of VoIP telephony services in Hungary, the Czech Republic, Poland and Romania), that were only partially offset by a decline in average video RGUs. The decline in average video RGUs is attributable to decreases in Romania and, to a lesser extent, the Czech Republic, Hungary and Slovakia that were only partially offset by a small increase in Poland. ARPU declined in Central and Eastern Europe during 2008, as compared to 2007, as the positive impacts of (i) an improvement in RGU mix, primarily attributable to a higher proportion of digital cable (due in part to the second quarter 2008 launch of digital cable services in Poland and Slovakia) and broadband internet RGUs, and (ii) rate increases for video services in certain countries were more than offset by the negative impacts of (a) increased competition, (b) a higher proportion of broadband internet and video subscribers selecting lower-priced tiers of service and (c) changes in telephony subscriber calling patterns and an increase in the proportion of telephony subscribers selecting fixed-rate calling plans. An increase in non-subscription revenue also contributed to the increase in revenue during 2008, primarily attributable to increases in installation, interconnect and B2B revenue.
In Romania, competition contributed to (i) an organic decline in total RGUs during the three months ended December 31, 2008 and (ii) declines in ARPU, video revenue and overall revenue during 2008, as compared to 2007. In response to the elevated level of competition in Romania, we implemented aggressive pricing and marketing strategies. These strategies, which contributed to the organic decline in Romanias revenue during 2008, were implemented with the objective of maintaining our market share in Romania and enhancing our prospects for continued revenue growth in future periods. In Hungary, competition contributed to a decline in subscription revenue during 2008, as compared to 2007, as a decline in revenue from video services was only partially offset by increases in revenue from broadband internet and telephony services. In the case of the Czech Republic, competition has contributed to declines during 2008, as compared to 2007, in (i) ARPU from all product categories and (ii) revenue from video services.
Telenet (Belgium). Telenets revenue increased $217.7 million or 16.9% during 2008, as compared to 2007. This increase includes $40.8 million attributable to the impact of acquisitions. Excluding the effects of these acquisitions and FX, Telenets revenue increased $80.4 million or 6.2%. Most of this increase is attributable to an increase in subscription revenue due to (i) a higher number of average RGUs during 2008, as compared to 2007 and (ii) a slight increase in ARPU. The increase in average RGUs primarily is attributable to increases in the average number of digital cable, broadband internet and telephony RGUs that were only partially offset by a decline in the average number of analog cable RGUs. ARPU increased slightly during 2008, as the positive impacts of (i) an improvement in Telenets RGU mix, primarily attributable to a higher proportion of digital cable, broadband internet and telephony RGUs, (ii) an August 2007 price increase for analog cable services, (iii) an increase in revenue from premium digital cable services, such as video-on-demand, and (iv) an increase in revenue from set-top box rentals due to Telenets increased emphasis on the rental, as opposed to the sale, of set-top boxes were largely offset by the negative impacts of (a) increased competition, (b) a higher proportion of customers selecting lower-priced tiers of broadband internet services and (c) lower ARPU from telephony services. The decline in ARPU from telephony services reflects an increasing proportion of subscribers selecting fixed-rate calling plans and lower rates for fixed-to-mobile voice traffic. An increase in non-subscription revenue also contributed to the increase in revenue during 2008, as an increase in B2B revenue was only partially offset by lower revenue from set-top box sales and interconnect fees. The decrease in interconnect fees is due primarily to reductions in fixed-line termination rates imposed by regulatory authorities.
J:COM (Japan). J:COMs revenue increased $604.7 million or 26.9% during 2008, as compared to 2007. This increase includes $100.0 million attributable to the aggregate impact of the September 2007 acquisition of JTV Thematics and other less significant acquisitions. Excluding the effects of these acquisitions and FX, J:COMs revenue increased $153.4 million or 6.8%. Most of this increase is attributable to an increase in subscription revenue, due primarily to a higher average number of telephony, broadband internet and video RGUs during 2008. ARPU remained relatively constant during 2008 as compared to 2007, as the positive impacts of (i) a higher proportion of digital cable RGUs, (ii) an increase in revenue from premium digital cable services, such as video-on-demand, and (iii) a higher proportion of broadband internet subscribers selecting higher-priced tiers of service were offset by the negative impacts of (a) higher bundling discounts and (b) lower telephony call volume.
VTR (Chile). VTRs revenue increased $79.0 million or 12.4% during 2008, as compared to 2007. Excluding the effects of FX, VTRs revenue increased $73.4 million or 11.6%. This increase is attributable to an increase in subscription revenue, due primarily to higher average numbers of broadband internet, telephony and video RGUs during 2008 and, to a lesser extent, a slight increase in ARPU. ARPU increased slightly during 2008, as the positive impacts of (i) an improvement in VTRs RGU mix, attributable to a higher proportion of digital cable and broadband internet RGUs, (ii) various inflation adjustments for certain video, broadband internet and telephony services and (iii) the continued migration of certain telephony subscribers to an unlimited fixed-rate calling plan were only partially offset by the negative impacts of (a) increased competition, particularly from the incumbent telecommunications operator in Chile, and (b) an increase in the proportion of subscribers selecting lower-priced tiers of analog video services.
Austar (Australia). Austars revenue increased $60.2 million or 12.7% during 2008, as compared to 2007. Excluding the effects of FX, Austars revenue increased $54.9 million or 11.6%. This increase is attributable to an
increase in subscription revenue, due primarily to (i) higher average numbers of DTH RGUs during 2008 and (ii) an increase in ARPU. The increase in ARPU is primarily attributable to (i) a January 2008 price increase for DTH video services and (ii) higher penetration of premium services, such as personal video recorders. Austars non-subscription revenue increased slightly during 2008, as compared to 2007, as a decline in revenue from mobile telephony services was more than offset by a net increase resulting from individually insignificant changes in other non-subscription revenue categories.
Operating Expenses of our Reportable Segments
Operating expenses 2009 compared to 2008
General. Operating expenses include programming, network operations, interconnect, customer operations, customer care, stock-based compensation expense and other direct costs. We do not include stock-based compensation in the following discussion and analysis of the operating expenses of our reportable segments as stock-based compensation expense is not included in the performance measures of our reportable segments. Stock-based compensation expense is discussed under the Discussion and Analysis of Our Consolidated Operating Results below. Programming costs, which represent a significant portion of our operating costs, are expected to rise in future periods as a result of the expansion of service offerings and the potential for price increases. In addition, we are subject to inflationary pressures with respect to our labor and other costs and foreign currency exchange risk with respect to costs and expenses that are denominated in currencies other than the respective functional currencies of our operating segments (non-functional currency expenses). Any cost increases that we are not able to pass on to our subscribers through service rate increases would result in increased pressure on our operating margins. For additional information concerning our foreign currency exchange risks see Quantitative and Qualitative Disclosures about Market Risk Foreign Currency Risk below.
UPC Broadband Division. The UPC Broadband Divisions operating expenses (exclusive of stock-based compensation expense) decreased $118.5 million or 7.6% during 2009, as compared to 2008. This decrease is net of
a $1.7 million increase attributable to the impact of acquisitions. Excluding the effects of acquisitions and FX, the UPC Broadband Divisions operating expenses remained relatively unchanged and includes the following factors:
Telenet (Belgium). Telenets operating expenses (exclusive of stock-based compensation expense) increased $67.2 million or 12.4% during 2009, as compared to 2008. This increase includes $76.4 million attributable to the impact of acquisitions. Excluding the effects of acquisitions and FX, Telenets operating expenses increased $19.6 million or 3.6%. This increase includes the following factors:
J:COM (Japan). J:COMs operating expenses (exclusive of stock-based compensation expense) increased $222.2 million or 20.3% during 2009, as compared to 2008. This increase includes $80.7 million attributable to the impact of acquisitions. Excluding the effects of acquisitions and FX, J:COMs operating expenses increased $16.8 million or 1.5%. This increase includes the following factors:
VTR (Chile). VTRs operating expenses (exclusive of stock-based compensation expense) increased $2.1 million or 0.7% during 2009, as compared to 2008. Excluding the effects of FX, VTRs operating expenses increased $24.5 million or 8.2%. This increase includes the following factors:
Austar (Australia). Austars operating expenses (exclusive of stock-based compensation expense) decreased $6.3 million or 2.3% during 2009, as compared to 2008. Excluding the effects of FX, Austars operating expenses increased $12.6 million or 4.6%. This increase is primarily attributable to an increase in programming and related costs of $13.8 million or 5.9%, due primarily to (i) a higher average number of Austars DTH video RGUs and (ii) rate increases for certain programming contracts.
Operating expenses 2008 compared to 2007
UPC Broadband Division. The UPC Broadband Divisions operating expenses (exclusive of stock-based compensation expense) increased $55.5 million or 3.7% during 2008, as compared to 2007. This increase includes $10.0 million attributable to the impact of acquisitions. Excluding the effects of acquisitions and FX, the UPC Broadband Divisions operating expenses decreased $76.3 million or 5.1%. This decrease includes the following factors:
Telenet (Belgium). Telenets operating expenses (exclusive of stock-based compensation expense) increased $56.5 million or 11.6% during 2008, as compared to 2007. This increase includes $20.0 million attributable to the impact of acquisitions. Excluding the effects of acquisitions and FX, Telenets operating expenses increased $2.7 million or 0.6%. This increase includes the following factors:
J:COM (Japan). J:COMs operating expenses (exclusive of stock-based compensation expense) increased $199.8 million or 22.3% during 2008, as compared to 2007. This increase includes $32.3 million attributable to the impact of acquisitions. Excluding the effects of acquisitions and FX, J:COMs operating expenses increased $33.2 million or 3.7%. This increase includes the following factors:
VTR (Chile). VTRs operating expenses (exclusive of stock-based compensation expense) increased $24.7 million or 9.1% during 2008, as compared to 2007. Excluding the effects of FX, VTRs operating expenses increased $23.3 million or 8.5%. This increase includes the following factors:
Austar (Australia). Austars operating expenses (exclusive of stock-based compensation expense) increased $24.9 million or 9.9% during 2008, as compared to 2007. Excluding the effects of FX, Austars operating expenses increased $21.7 million or 8.7%. This increase includes the following factors:
SG&A Expenses of our Reportable Segments
SG&A expenses 2009 compared to 2008