The DirecTV Group 10-K 2010
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Commission file number 1-34554
Indicate by check mark if the registrant is a well-known seasoned issuer, as defined in Rule 405 of the Securities Act. Yes ý No o
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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 (or for such shorter period that the registrant was required to file such reports), and (2) has been subject to such filing requirements for the past 90 days. Yes ý No o
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 ý No o
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 registrant's 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. o
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 o No ý
As of June 30, 2009, the aggregate market value of our predecessor, The DIRECTV Group, Inc.'s, voting and non-voting common equity held by non-affiliates was $11,041,195,097. This amount excludes Liberty Media Corporation's approximately 55% ownership interest in our outstanding common stock as of such date.
As of February 22, 2010, the registrant had outstanding 913,331,533 shares of Class A common stock and 21,809,863 shares of Class B common stock.
Documents incorporated by reference are as follows:
Table of Contents
This Annual Report on Form 10-K may contain certain statements that we believe are, or may be considered to be, "forward-looking statements" within the meaning of various provisions of the Securities Act of 1933 and of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934. These forward-looking statements generally can be identified by use of statements that include phrases such as we "believe," "expect," "estimate," "anticipate," "intend," "plan," "foresee," "project" or other similar words or phrases. Similarly, statements that describe our objectives, plans or goals also are forward-looking statements. All of these forward-looking statements are subject to certain risks and uncertainties including, without limitation, risk factors discussed in more detail in Item 1A of this Annual Report, which could cause our actual results to differ materially from historical results or from those expressed or implied by the relevant forward-looking statement. The forward-looking statements included in this Annual Report are made only as of the date of this Annual Report and we undertake no obligation to publicly update these forward-looking statements to reflect subsequent events or circumstances.
ITEM 1. BUSINESS
DIRECTV, which we also refer to as the company, we or us, is a leading provider of digital television entertainment in the United States and Latin America. We operate two direct-to-home, or DTH, operating segments: DIRECTV U.S. and DIRECTV Latin America, which are differentiated by their geographic location and are engaged in acquiring, promoting, selling and/or distributing digital entertainment programming via satellite to residential and commercial subscribers. In addition, beginning November 19, 2009, we own and operate three regional sports networks, or RSNs, and own a 65% interest in Game Show Network, LLC, or GSN, a basic television network dedicated to game-related programming and Internet interactive game playing. We account for our investment in GSN using the equity method of accounting.
On November 19, 2009, The DIRECTV Group, Inc., or DIRECTV Group, and Liberty Media Corporation, which we refer to as Liberty or Liberty Media, obtained shareholder approval of and closed a series of related transactions which we refer to collectively as the Liberty Transaction. The Liberty Transaction included the split-off of certain of the assets of the Liberty Entertainment group into Liberty Entertainment, Inc., or LEI, which was then split-off from Liberty. Following the split-off, DIRECTV Group and LEI merged with subsidiaries of DIRECTV. As a result of the Liberty Transaction, DIRECTV Group, which is comprised of the DIRECTV U.S. and DIRECTV Latin America businesses, and LEI, which held Liberty's 57% interest in DIRECTV Group, a 100% interest in three regional sports networks, a 65% interest in GSN, approximately $120 million in cash and cash equivalents and approximately $2.1 billion of indebtedness and a series of related equity collars, became wholly-owned subsidiaries of DIRECTV.
The holders of outstanding shares of DIRECTV Group common stock (other than direct or indirect subsidiaries of LEI) received one share of DIRECTV Class A common stock for each share of DIRECTV Group common stock held. The holders of outstanding shares of LEI Series A common
stock and Series B common stock (other than Dr. John Malone and his family, or the Malones) received 1.11130 shares of DIRECTV Class A common stock for each share of LEI Series A or Series B common stock held. The Malones received 1.11130 shares of DIRECTV Class B common stock for each share of LEI Series B common stock held.
DIRECTV has two classes of common stock outstanding, Class A common stock and Class B common stock. The DIRECTV Class A common stock is entitled to one vote per share and the Class B common stock is entitled to 15 votes per share. The DIRECTV Class A common stock trades on the NASDAQ® Global Select Market, or NASDAQ, under the ticker "DTV". DIRECTV Group common stock has been delisted and no longer trades on the NASDAQ. The DIRECTV Class B common stock will not be listed on any stock exchange or automated dealer quotation system. The Malones own all outstanding Class B common stock, and have agreed to limit their Class B voting rights to 24% of the total voting power of DIRECTV's common stock. Including their Class A and Class B ownership interests, the Malones hold an approximate 2.7% economic interest and an approximate 24.3% voting interest in DIRECTV.
DIRECTV Group has been treated as the acquiring corporation in the Liberty Transaction for accounting and financial reporting purposes and accordingly, the historical financial statements of DIRECTV Group are reported as the historical financial statements of DIRECTV.
For additional information regarding the Liberty Transaction, refer to Note 3 of the Notes to the Consolidated Financial Statements and Amendment No. 5 to DIRECTV's Registration Statement on Form S-4 filed with the SEC on October 20, 2009.
DIRECTV was incorporated in Delaware in 2009.
Through DIRECTV U.S., we provide over 18.5 million subscribers with access to hundreds of channels of digital-quality video pictures and CD-quality audio programming that we transmit directly to subscribers' homes or businesses via high-powered geosynchronous satellites.
We believe we provide one of the most extensive collections of programming available in the MVPD industry. As of December 31, 2009, we distributed more than 2,000 digital video and audio channels, including about 200 basic entertainment and music channels, 40 premium movie channels, over 50 regional and specialty sports networks, over 120 Spanish and other foreign language special interest channels, over 31 pay-per-view movie and event choices, and over 130 national high-definition, or HD, television channels. Although we distribute more than 1,500 local channelsover 500 in high-definitiona subscriber generally receives only the local channels in the subscriber's home market. In addition, we offer an on demand service named DIRECTV on DEMAND which, as of the end of 2009, provided a selection of about 6,000 movie and television programs to our subscribers who have a broadband connection to their set-top receiver. As of December 31, 2009, we provided local channel coverage in standard definition to markets covering about 95% of U.S. television households. In addition, we provided HD local channels to markets representing approximately 92% of U.S. TV households. In the second quarter of 2010, we expect to further expand our offering of HD channels when the recently launched DIRECTV 12 satellite begins operations.
We also provide premium professional and collegiate sports programming such as the NFL SUNDAY TICKET package, which allows subscribers to view the largest selection of NFL games available each Sunday during the regular season. Under our contract with the NFL, we have exclusive rights to provide this service through the 2014 season, including rights to provide related broadband, HD, interactive and mobile services.
To subscribe to the DIRECTV® service, subscribers acquire receiving equipment from either us, our national retailers, independent satellite television retailers or dealers, or regional telephone companies, which we refer to as telcos. Most set-top receivers provided to new and existing subscribers are leased subsequent to the introduction of a lease program on March 1, 2006. The receiving equipment consists of a small receiving satellite dish antenna, a digital set-top receiver and a remote control, which we refer to as a DIRECTV® System. After acquiring and installing a DIRECTV System, subscribers activate the DIRECTV service by contacting us and subscribing to one of our programming packages.
currently considering licensing additional DBS slots for satellites that are sometimes referred to as "tweeners" which would provide CONUS coverage. See "Government RegulationFCC Regulation Under the Communications Act and Related Acts" and "Risk FactorsThe ability to maintain FCC licenses and other regulatory approvals is critical to our business" for more information related to these types of slots and satellites.
In addition, we hold licenses in three orbital slots (99° west longitude, or WL, 101° WL, and 103° WL) in the Ka-Band spectrum. The satellites that have been launched into these orbital slots have substantially increased our channel capacity, allowing us to provide one of the most extensive HD channel offerings currently available across the United States. We also have obtained approval from the FCC to transmit our signal in the Ku-Band from one of our satellites that has been stationed at a temporary orbital location at 72.5° WL and from leased capacity on a satellite at 95° WL.
Our satellite-based service provides us with many advantages over ground- based cable television services. We have the ability to distribute hundreds of channels to millions of recipients nationwide with minimal incremental infrastructure cost per additional subscriber. In addition, we have comprehensive coverage to areas with low population density in the United States and the ability to quickly introduce new services to a large number of subscribers.
Our vision is to provide customers with the best video experience in the United States both inside and outside of the home by offering subscribers unique, differentiated and compelling programming through leadership in content, technology and customer service.
capacity to broadcast approximately 200 national HD channels to nearly all U.S. television households. As part of this rollout, we plan on offering local channels in HD to 19 additional markets,
bringing the total number of HD local channel markets to 157covering over 95% of TV homes. Subscribers receiving local HD channels will generally only receive the channels broadcast in
their home market. Additionally, in 2010 we plan on being one of the first MVPD providers to offer dedicated 3D programming by introducing three 3D channels to our HD customers who have purchased 3D
We also expect to expand our DIRECTV on DEMAND, our video on demand, or VOD, service for subscribers that have the DIRECTV Plus® digital video recorder, or DVR, or DIRECTV Plus® HD DVR set-top receivers. As of year end 2009, DIRECTV on DEMAND offered about 6,000 titles providing thousands of hours of top programming from the major broadcast and cable networks, as well as popular movies. Most of the titles are offered free of charge and are downloaded from the Internet through a broadband connection for those subscribers with a DIRECTV Plus HD DVR. In addition, we download top movies via our satellites to a customer's DVR hard drive. In 2010, we expect to introduce a new movie service, DIRECTV CinemaTM, which will substantially increase the number of new release movies available for our customers to view and purchase from either their television, laptop computer or mobile telephone.
in a home. We also intend to make DIRECTV programming more ubiquitous by offering it on portable and mobile devices, including cell phones. For example, in 2009, subscribers to our NFL SUNDAY TICKET SuperFan® package were able to stream live NFL games to their mobile phones. In addition, we believe that our ongoing marketing relationships with the major wireless telephony providers such as AT&T and Verizon provide us a unique opportunity to develop compelling applications for our customers.
DIRECTV U.S., we have reduced turnover and improved the overall customer experience, and performance of the remaining outsourced technicians has also generally improved. We have also improved the quality and usage of our web-based customer service capabilities, improved the tools that our customer service representatives have at their disposal, and simplified our customer bills. In addition, we have implemented a new work order management system that has improved the scheduling and tracking of our installation and service calls including the use of wireless handheld devices so that our service technicians can improve the efficiency of their daily work orders. In 2009, we have seen substantial improvements in many of our customer service and installation metrics and we expect to make further improvements in 2010.
Satellites. We currently have a fleet of twelve geosynchronous satellites, including eleven owned satellites and one leased satellite. We have seven Ku-Band satellites at the following orbital locations: 101° WL (three), 110° WL (one), 119° WL (one), 72.5° WL (one), and 95° WL (one-leased). We also have five Ka-Band satellites at our 99° WL (two) and 103° WL (three) orbital locations. The 72.5° WL orbital location is used pursuant to an arrangement with Telesat Canada and Bell ExpressVu.
We are currently evaluating whether to begin construction of an additional satellite to provide additional services as well as backup capacity. If we do decide to acquire such a satellite, we expect that it would be launched and go into service in 2013.
Satellite Risk Management. At times, we use launch and in-orbit insurance to mitigate the potential financial impact of satellite fleet launch and in-orbit failures unless the premium costs are considered to be uneconomical relative to the risk of satellite failure. The insurance generally does not compensate for business interruption or loss of future revenues or subscribers. We rely on in-orbit spare satellites and excess transponder capacity at key orbital slots to mitigate the impact of a potential satellite failure on our ability to provide service. However, programming continuity cannot be assured in all instances or in the event of multiple satellite losses.
Launch insurance typically covers the time frame from ignition of the launch vehicle through separation of the satellite from the launch vehicle. In the past, we have launched satellites without insurance. As of December 31, 2009, the net book value of DIRECTV U.S.' in-orbit satellites was $1,516 million, none of which is insured.
Digital Broadcast Centers. To gather programming content, ensure its digital quality, and transmit content to our satellites, we have built two digital broadcast centers, located in Castle Rock, Colorado and Los Angeles, California. These facilities provide the majority of our national and local standard-definition and HD programming. We have also built five uplink facilities which are used to provide HD local channels. Our broadcast centers receive programming from content providers via satellite, fiber optic cable and/or special tape. Most satellite-delivered programming is then digitized, encoded and transmitted to our satellites. We designed each broadcast center and uplink facility with redundant systems to minimize service interruptions.
Installation Network. The DIRECTV home service provider, or HSP, installation and service network performs installation, upgrades and other service call work for us. In 2008 and 2009, we entered into several transactions that brought a significant portion of this HSP network activity in-house. We now directly employ nearly 4,000 technicians and utilize an additional 11,000 technicians from seven outsourced companies around the United States. The combined workforce completed approximately 93% of all in-home visits in 2009. We set the standards for the quality of installation and service, perform quality control, manage inventory and monitor the overall service network performance for nearly all of the third-party installation network.
Customer Service Centers. As of December 31, 2009, we used 36 customer service centers employing over 16,000 customer service representatives. Most of these customer service centers are operated by Convergys Customer Management Group, Inc., Precision Response Corporation, Sitel Operating Corporation, N.E.W. Customer Service Companies, Inc., VXI Global Solutions, Inc. and Teleperformance. We currently own and operate six customer service centers located in: Boise, Idaho; Tulsa, Oklahoma; Huntsville, Alabama; Missoula, Montana; Huntington, West Virginia and Denver, Colorado that employ approximately 5,000 customer service representatives. Potential and existing subscribers can call a single telephone number 24 hours a day, seven days a week, to request assistance for hardware, programming, installation, technical and other support. We continue to increase the functionality of telephone-based and web-based self-care features in order to better manage customer service costs and improve service levels.
We face substantial competition in the MVPD industry and from emerging digital media distribution providers. Our competition includes companies that offer video, audio, interactive programming, telephony, data and other entertainment services, including cable television, other DTH companies, telcos, wireless companies and companies that are developing new technologies. Many of our competitors have access to substantially greater financial and marketing resources. We believe our brand, the quality and variety of video, audio and interactive programming, quality of picture, access to service, availability of HD and DVR services, customer service and price are the key elements for attaining and retaining subscribers. Our over 18.5 million subscribers represent approximately 19% of MVPD subscribers at December 31, 2009.
expects to have the capability to serve approximately 30 million of its customers by the end of 2011. As of year end 2009, Verizon had nearly 3 million video subscribers and AT&T had approximately 2 million video subscribers. Similar to the cable companies, the telcos expect to offer their customers multiple services at a discount on one bill.
DIRECTV LATIN AMERICA
DTVLA is the leading provider of DTH digital television services throughout Latin America and the Caribbean, which includes Puerto Rico. DTVLA provides a wide selection of high-quality local and international programming under the DIRECTV and SKY brands to approximately 2.7 million subscribers in PanAmericana and approximately 1.9 million subscribers in Brazil. Our 41% owned affiliate, Sky Mexico, has more than 1.9 million subscribers in Mexico and certain countries in Central America. Including Sky Mexico, DIRECTV and SKY service over 6.5 million customers throughout the region.
We own 100% of PanAmericana (which operates principally in South America and the Caribbean, including Puerto Rico), 74% of Sky Brazil (which operates in Brazil), and 41% of Sky Mexico (which operates in Mexico, Central America and the Dominican Republic). Globo Comunicações e Participações S.A., or Globo, owns the other 26% of Sky Brazil and Grupo Televisa, S.A., or Televisa, owns the other 59% of Sky Mexico. The results of PanAmericana and Sky Brazil are consolidated in our results. We account for our 41% interest in Sky Mexico under the equity method of accounting.
In connection with the approval of Liberty Media's acquisition of its equity interest in us from News Corporation in February 2008, the FCC required DTVLA to sever the "attributable interests" between our DIRECTV Puerto Rico subsidiary and Liberty Cablevision of Puerto Rico, Ltd., or LCPR, by February 26, 2009. We assumed responsibility for satisfaction, modification or waiver of this condition. In order to comply with terms of the FCC order, effective February 25, 2009, we placed the shares of DIRECTV Puerto Rico into a trust and appointed an independent trustee who is required to oversee the management and operation of DIRECTV Puerto Rico, and has the authority, subject to certain conditions, to divest ownership of DIRECTV Puerto Rico. We continue to consolidate the results of DIRECTV Puerto Rico following this transaction.
and HD DVRs throughout the territory, which translated into pan-regional penetration rates which averaged over 25% of gross subscriber additions in the fourth quarter.
Our goal is to provide subscribers with the best video experience available. Our strategy focuses on leveraging DTVLA's competitive advantages that differentiate our service offerings from those of our competitors.
We provide services in PanAmericana and Brazil from leased transponders on two satellites. Sky Mexico provides its services from leased transponders on a separate satellite. Currently, these satellites
do not have a backup, however we have arranged to lease a backup satellite which was successfully launched in February 2010 that will serve Sky Brazil and Sky Mexico. We anticipate that this satellite will be available for operations in the second quarter of 2010.
See Item 1A. "Risk Factors" below for additional information regarding satellite launch and operational risks.
Our principal digital broadcast centers are located in the United States and Brazil. We also have several smaller satellite uplink facilities in the region.
The pay television and other emerging broadband video and data markets in Latin America are highly competitive. In each of our markets, we compete primarily with other providers of pay television, who distribute their programming by satellite, cable, terrestrial microwave systems, traditional over-the-air broadcasting or the Internet. In addition, in certain markets we face significant competition from illegal and informal sector pay television operations. We compete primarily on the basis of programming selection, price, technology and quality.
In most of the markets in which we operate, cable television is our principal competition. Cable services have been in commercial operation longer than other pay television platforms, and have established large subscriber bases and widespread brand recognition. They have typically offered analog services for lower monthly fees and with lower upfront installation and connection fees than we do. In addition, the cable operators with which we compete are in various stages of upgrading their networks to provide broadband and telephony services, and in some markets the major cable operators are competing with us based principally on their offer of a "triple play" bundle of video, broadband and telephony services. In most cases, they discount the value of their programming services in order to sell broadband and telephony services, which can adversely affect the attractiveness of our offers to subscribers.
In addition to competition from cable services, we face increasing competition from other providers of DTH services. Telefonica, the Spanish telephone company, launched DTH services in Peru, Chile and Brazil in 2006, Colombia in 2007 and Venezuela in 2008. Telmex provides DTH service in Chile and Peru, and in 2009 it launched services in Brazil through its affiliate, Embratel. Oi, the second fixed line incumbent in Brazil (in addition to Telefonica), launched a DTH service in 2009. Also, in Mexico a joint venture of EchoStar Corp. and MVS Comunicaciones launched a new DTH service, with substantial commercial support and cooperation from Telmex, which due to regulatory restrictions is not currently permitted to provide its own video services in Mexico. These competitors have significant resources and have proven their ability to grow their businesses rapidly. They typically seek to focus on offering lower-cost, limited services packages in support of their telephony and broadband offerings, which can increase our churn and put pressure on our margins. Also, the existence of multiple DTH operators in a single market dilutes our ability to market our DTH service as an alternative to cable, traditionally our principal competition.
In a number of markets, existing wireline telephony operators have announced their intention to upgrade their infrastructure in order to provide new and enhanced services, including video programming. These and other companies have announced plans to build wireless broadband networks that will also be capable of delivering broadband, telephony and video services. However, to date only a very small number of such upgrades and build outs have been actively pursued on other than a test basis.
ACQUISITIONS, STRATEGIC ALLIANCES AND DIVESTITURES
We review our competitive position on an ongoing basis and, from time to time, consider various acquisitions, strategic alliances and divestitures, including potential wireless broadband investments or alliances, in order to continue to compete effectively, improve our financial results, grow our business and allocate our resources efficiently. We also consider periodically making equity investments in companies with which we can jointly provide services to our subscribers.
We are subject to government regulation in the United States, primarily by the FCC, and similar regulatory agencies in Latin America and, to a certain extent, by the legislative branches, other federal agencies, and state and local authorities in the countries where we operate. We are also subject to the rules and procedures of the International Telecommunications Union, or ITU, a specialized agency of the United Nations within which governments and the private sector coordinate global telecommunications networks and services. Depending upon the circumstances, noncompliance with legislation or regulations promulgated by these entities could result in the suspension or revocation of our licenses or registrations, the termination or loss of contracts or the imposition of contractual damages, civil fines or criminal penalties.
This section sets forth a summary of regulatory issues pertaining to our operations in the United States and is not intended to describe all present and proposed government regulation and legislation affecting the MVPD industry or our business.
FCC Regulation Under the Communications Act and Related Acts. The Communications Act and other related acts give the FCC broad authority to regulate the operations of our company.
The ownership and operation of our DBS/DTH system is regulated by the FCC primarily for:
The FCC grants authorizations to satellite operators that meet its legal, technical and financial qualification requirements. The FCC conditions such authorizations on satisfaction of ongoing due diligence, construction, reporting and related obligations.
All of our satellites and earth stations are or have been licensed by the FCC. Currently, two of our satellites are licensed by the government of Canada. While the FCC generally issues DTH space station licenses for a fifteen-year term, DBS space station and earth station licenses are generally issued for a ten-year term, which is less than the useful life of a healthy direct broadcast satellite. Upon expiration of the initial license term, the FCC has the option to renew a satellite operator's license or authorize an operator to operate for a period of time on special temporary authority, or decline to renew the license. If the FCC declines to renew the operator's license, the operator is required to cease operations and the frequencies it was previously authorized to use would revert to the FCC.
Currently, we have several applications pending before the FCC, including applications to launch and operate future satellites to support DIRECTV's services. In general, the FCC's approval of these applications is required for us to continue to expand our range of service offerings while increasing the robustness of our satellite fleet. We may not obtain these approvals in a timely fashion or at all.
As a DBS/DTH licensee and operator we are subject to a variety of Communications Act requirements, FCC regulations and copyright laws that could materially affect our business. They include the following:
a timely and appropriate manner in markets in which we choose to retransmit the signals of local broadcast stations. We have limited capacity, and the projected number of markets in which we can deliver local broadcast programming will continue to be constrained because of the must carry requirement and may be reduced depending on the FCC's interpretation of its rules in pending and future rulemaking and complaint proceedings, as well as judicial decisions interpreting must carry requirements. For example, the FCC issued an order requiring mandatory carriage of high-definition digital signals in an increasing number of markets each year, requiring so-called "HD carry-one, carry-all" in all local markets served by 2013. We may not be able to comply with these must carry rules, or compliance may mean that we will be required to use capacity that could otherwise be used for new or additional local or national programming services. Moreover, Congress may amend the must carry rules when it considers SHVERA reauthorization. For example, Congress has in the past proposed legislation and may in the future enact legislation that would require us to provide local channels via satellite in all markets in the United States. We currently provide local channel coverage to approximately 155 markets representing approximately 95% of U.S. television households. If such legislation were enacted, we would be required to provide local channel coverage to an additional 55 markets representing about 5% of U.S. television households on an accelerated timetable. We believe that the capital expenditures and ongoing costs to provide this coverage would not be covered by the incremental revenue from the additional subscribers we could potentially gain in these markets. Moreover, depending upon the timetable imposed, we may not be able to comply in a timely manner.
continue to explore new sources of DBS/DTH capacity, there can be no assurance that we will obtain further capacity. In addition, the FCC had adopted a system of competitive bidding to assign licenses for additional DBS frequencies. On June 21, 2005, the United States Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit held that such an auction process was not authorized by statute. The FCC subsequently voided the previous auction and implemented a freeze on applications for authority to provide DBS service in the United States using new frequencies or new orbital locations not assigned to the United States in the ITU Region 2 Broadcasting Satellite Service, or BSS, Plan. On August 18, 2006, the FCC began a proceeding to identify a new system for assigning DBS authorizations. There can be no assurance that we will be able to obtain additional DBS capacity under whatever system the FCC implements in the future.
In 2007, the FCC adopted new service and licensing rules for the BSS in the 17.3-17.8 GHz and 24.75-25.25 GHz bands, or 17/24 GHz BSS. This spectrum, also known as the "reverse band" (in that transmissions from these satellites to consumers would occur in spectrum currently used for uplinking programming to traditional DBS satellites), could provide a new source of additional DTH capacity. Among other things, the FCC established a licensing procedure under which the four parties with applications then pendingincluding DIRECTVwould be allowed to amend their applications to conform to the new rules and would be entitled to have those applications processed on a co-equal basis with one another before any new applications would be accepted. On July 28, 2009, the FCC granted four DIRECTV satellite applications in this band. However, foreign operators who may have international priority have indicated an interest in using slots that may conflict with some or all of these licenses. One foreign licensed operator, Spectrum Five LLC, has filed a petition seeking reconsideration of one of DIRECTV's licenses at an orbital location where Spectrum Five also proposes to operate, and that petition remains pending.
On August 18, 2006, the FCC released a notice of proposed rulemaking regarding the possible operation of "tweener" or "short spaced" satellitessatellites that would operate in the same DBS uplink and downlink frequency bands as us, from orbital positions located in between those now assigned to the DBS service. This rulemaking follows applications by SES and Spectrum Five LLC to operate tweener satellites. Under rules that the FCC is considering, a provider could, by complying with certain technical restrictions, operate a satellite in between two orbital locations where we have already positioned our satellites without completing coordination of its operations with us and without demonstrating that such operations would not "affect" us as that
term is defined by the ITU. We have opposed this proposal, and believe that tweener satellites as proposed by applicants would cause interference to our current and planned operations and impose a significant constraint on the further growth of our DIRECTV U.S. DBS service. We cannot predict what if any action the FCC may take or the effect of such a proceeding on our business.
On November 29, 2006, despite the pendency of the tweener satellite rulemaking and over our opposition, the FCC's International Bureau granted Spectrum Five's application to operate a tweener satellite at the 114.5o WL orbital location, only 4.5o away from our DBS satellites operating at the 110o WL and 119o WL orbital locations. While the Bureau limited Spectrum Five's operations to levels below those at which the ITU deems one DBS system to "affect" another in the absence of agreement from all affected DBS operators (including us), the Bureau's grant of Spectrum Five's application prior to coordination could ultimately permit Spectrum Five to operate at levels that would cause interference to our operations. On February 1, 2008, the full FCC denied reconsideration of the International Bureau's order, but clarified that, if Spectrum Five is unable to coordinate its tweener satellite, it must file for a modification of its authorization and demonstrate that its proposed operational parameters would not exceed the ITU trigger for coordination. To date, Spectrum Five has neither contacted us to attempt coordination of its tweener system nor filed for modification of its authorization as directed by the FCC.
The FCC has also adopted rules that require satellite operators to take certain measures to mitigate the dangers of collision and orbital debris. Among other things, these rules impose certain requirements for satellite design and end-of-life disposal maneuvers for all satellites launched after March 18, 2002, which apply to eight of our in-orbit satellites. We believe that we are in compliance with all of these requirements and expect that we will continue to be able to comply with them going forward, but the requirements for end-of-life disposal could result in a slight reduction in the operational life of each new satellite.
Moreover, in the transaction between News Corporation and Liberty, the Commission required us to sever all "attributable" links between DTVLA's subsidiary, DIRECTV Puerto Rico Ltd. ("DTVPR"), and a Puerto Rico cable operator owned by an affiliate of Liberty. In order to comply with this condition, we put our entire interest in DTVPR into a divestiture trust in February 2009. However, we cannot be sure that the FCC will agree with our view that the trust is sufficient to sever all attributable links between the two companies, or that it will not require us to undertake further cumbersome and expensive measures to eliminate such attribution.
International Telecommunications Union Rules. We are required by international rules to coordinate the use of the frequencies on our satellites with other satellite operators who may interfere with us or who may suffer interference from our operations.
Other Legal and Regulatory Requirements. DBS/DTH providers are subject to other federal and state regulatory requirements, such as Federal Trade Commission, FCC and state telemarketing and advertising rules, and subscriber privacy rules similar to those governing other MVPDs. We have agreed with the Federal Trade Commission to (1) review and monitor compliance with telemarketing laws by any companies we authorize to do telemarketing as well as by independent retailers, (2) investigate and respond to complaints about alleged improper telemarketing and (3) terminate our relationship with marketers or retailers found in violation. Similarly, we have agreed with certain state attorneys general to comply with advertising disclosure requirements and monitor compliance by independent retailers.
In addition, although Congress has granted the FCC exclusive jurisdiction over the provision of DTH satellite services, aspects of DBS/DTH service remain regulated at the state and local level. For example, the FCC has promulgated rules prohibiting restrictions by local government agencies, such as zoning commissions and private organizations, such as homeowners associations, on the placement of DBS receiving antennas. Local governments and homeowners associations, however, may continue to regulate the placement of such antennas if necessary to accomplish a clearly defined public safety objective or to preserve a recognized historic district, and may also apply to the FCC for a waiver of FCC rules if there are other local concerns of a special or unusual nature. In addition, a number of state and local governments have attempted to impose consumer protection, customer service and other types of regulation on DBS operators. Also, while Congress has prohibited local taxation of the provision of DBS service, taxation at the state level is permissible, and many states have imposed such taxes, and additional states have attempted to do so recently. Incident to conducting a consumer directed business, we occasionally receive inquiries or complaints from authorities such as state attorneys general and state consumer protection offices. These matters are generally resolved in the ordinary course of business.
In Latin America, DTVLA and its subsidiaries are subject to laws and regulations in each country in which they operate that govern many of the same aspects of our operations as in the United States, such as landing rights for satellites; spectrum, earth station and other licenses; must carry and other requirements with respect to the channels we carry; and regulations governing telemarketing and customer service, etc. Regulatory regimes in Latin America are generally less developed than in the United States, and the application of existing laws and regulations to DBS providers is at times uncertain. In addition, there are certain areas where regulations in Latin America are stricter than in the United States, such as regarding labor and consumer protection laws. Foreign exchange laws in some countries can have a material impact on our ability to repatriate funds to the United States. Also, recently in several countries such as Brazil there have been proposed laws that would require us to carry certain thresholds of domestic or "national" content which, if approved, could have a material impact on our subsidiaries operating in those countries.
All DIRECTV companies maintain active programs for identifying and protecting our important intellectual property. With the exception of certain U.S. trademark registrations held by DIRECTV U.S., Sky Mexico and Sky Brazil pursuant to trademark license agreements and various intellectual property licensed from third parties, DIRECTV Group owns all of our intellectual property for the benefit of our company and our subsidiaries.
We believe that our growing portfolio of pending and issued patents are important assets. We presently hold over 1,950 issued patents worldwide relating to our past and present businesses, including over 450 patents developed by, or otherwise relating to, the businesses of DIRECTV U.S. We hold a worldwide portfolio of over 1,100 trademarks in over 130 countries related to the DIRECTV brand, the Cyclone Design and DIRECTV products and services. In particular, DIRECTV U.S. holds trademark registrations relating to its business, including registrations of the primary "DIRECTV" and Cyclone Design trademarks. In many instances, these trademarks are licensed royalty-free to third parties for use in support of the DIRECTV U.S. business. We actively protect our important patents, trademarks and other intellectual property rights against unauthorized or improper use by third parties.
We are subject to the requirements of federal, state, local and foreign environmental laws and regulations. These include laws regulating air emissions, water discharge and universal and hazardous waste management activities. We have an environmental management function designed to track, facilitate and support our compliance with these requirements and attempt to maintain compliance with all such requirements. We have made and will continue to make, as necessary, capital and other expenditures to comply with environmental requirements. We do not, however, expect capital or other expenditures for environmental compliance to be material in 2010. In addition, we periodically review environmental stewardship concepts (such as green initiatives and energy conservation strategies) and implement these whenever feasible. Environmental requirements are complex, change frequently and have become more stringent over time. Accordingly, we cannot provide assurance that these requirements will not change or become more stringent in the future in a manner that could have a material adverse effect on our business.
We are also subject to environmental laws requiring the investigation and cleanup of environmental contamination at facilities we formerly owned or operated or currently own or operate or to which we sent hazardous wastes, including specified universal wastes, for treatment, service, disposal or recycling. We are aware of contamination at one of our former sites. We are in the process of complying with the requirements stipulated by the government agency overseeing the site clean up and have allocated the funds to achieve the decontamination goals.
SEGMENT REPORTING DATA
Operating segment and principal geographic area data for 2009, 2008 and 2007 are summarized in Note 18 of the Notes to the Consolidated Financial Statements in Item 8, Part II of this Annual Report, which we incorporate herein by reference.
As of December 31, 2009, DIRECTV U.S. had approximately 15,900 full-time and 300 part-time employees, DIRECTV Latin America had approximately 5,700 full-time and 1,200 part-time employees and Sports Networks and Other had approximately 200 full-time employees.
ACCESS TO COMPANY REPORTS
Our website address is www.directv.com. Our Annual Reports on Form 10-K, Quarterly Reports on Form 10-Q, Current Reports on Form 8-K, and amendments to those reports filed or furnished, if any, pursuant to Section 13(a) or 15(d) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 are available free of charge through our website as soon as reasonably practicable after they are electronically filed with, or furnished to, the SEC. We are not incorporating by reference in this Annual Report on Form 10-K any information on our website.
In addition, our DIRECTV U.S. subsidiary, DIRECTV Holdings LLC, is a separate registrant with the SEC. You can access DIRECTV Holdings LLC's Annual Reports on Form 10-K, Quarterly Reports on Form 10-Q, Current Reports on Form 8-K, and amendments to those reports filed or furnished, if any, pursuant to Section 13(a) or 15(d) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 free of charge through our website at www.directv.com as soon as reasonably practicable after they are electronically filed with, or furnished to, the SEC.
DIRECTV, DIRECT Plus, SuperFan, SUPERCAST, ScoreGuide, DIRECTV Cinema, Game Search, The 101 Network and the DIRECTV Cyclone Design are trademarks of The DIRECTV Group, Inc. and/or its related entities. Other trademarks, service marks and trade names appearing in this Annual Report are the property of their respective holder.
ITEM 1A. RISK FACTORS
You should carefully consider the following risk factors, as well as the more detailed descriptions of our business elsewhere in this Annual Report. The risks described below are not the only ones facing our company. Additional risks not presently known to us or that we currently deem immaterial may also adversely affect our business, financial condition or results of operations.
Our business, financial condition or results of operations could be materially and adversely affected by the following:
We compete with other MVPDs, some of whom have greater resources than we do and levels of competition are increasing.
We compete in the MVPD industry against cable television, telcos and wireless companies and other land-based and satellite- based system operators with service offerings including video, audio and interactive programming, data and other entertainment services and telephony service. Some of these competitors have greater financial, marketing and other resources than we do.
Some cable television operators have large, established customer bases and many cable operators have significant investments in, and access to, programming. According to the National Cable & Telecommunications Association's 2008 Industry Overview, 96% of the 128.6 million U.S. housing units are passed by cable. Of the 128.6 million U.S. housing units, approximately 97.6 million subscribe to an MVPD service and approximately 62% of MVPD subscribers receive their programming from a cable operator. Cable television operators have advantages relative to us, including or as a result of:
In addition, cable television operators have grown their subscriber bases through mergers and acquisitions, and a recent federal appeals court decision invalidating the cap on the number of subscribers a single cable operator may allow them additional avenues for growth. Moreover, mergers, joint ventures and alliances among franchise, wireless or private cable television operators, telcos, broadband service providers and others may result in providers capable of offering bundled television, data and telecommunications services in competition with our services.
We do not currently offer local channel coverage to markets covering approximately five percent of U.S. television households, which places us at a competitive disadvantage in those markets. We also have been unable to secure certain international programming, due to exclusive arrangements of programming providers with certain competitors, which has constrained our ability to compete for subscribers who wish to obtain such programming. And as discussed below, certain cable-affiliated programmers have withheld their programming from us in certain markets, which has further constrained our ability to compete for subscribers in those markets.
In the United States, various telcos and broadband service providers have deployed fiber optic lines directly to customers' homes or neighborhoods to deliver video services, which compete with the DIRECTV service. It is uncertain whether we will be able to increase our satellite capacity, offer a significant level of new services in existing markets in which we compete or expand to additional markets as may be necessary to compete effectively. Some of these various telcos and broadband service providers also sell the DIRECTV service as part of a bundle with their voice and data services. A new broadly-deployed network with the capability of providing video, voice and data services could present a significant competitive challenge and, in the case of the telcos currently selling the DIRECTV service, could result in such companies focusing less effort and resources selling the DIRECTV service or declining to sell it at all. We may be unable to develop other distribution methods to make up for lost sales through the telcos.
As a result of these and other factors, we may not be able to continue to expand our subscriber base or compete effectively against cable television or other MVPD operators in the future.
Emerging digital media competition could materially adversely affect us.
Our business is focused on television, and we face emerging competition from other providers of digital media, some of which have greater financial, marketing and other resources than we do. In particular, programming offered over the Internet has become more prevalent as broadband networks have improved their speed and quality of service. Significant changes in consumer behavior with regard to the means by which they obtain video entertainment and information in response to this emerging digital media competition could materially adversely affect our revenues and earnings or otherwise disrupt our business.
We depend on others to produce programming and programming costs are increasing.
We depend on third parties to provide us with almost all of our programming services, including third parties who are our affiliates and third parties controlled by competitors. As discussed below, a limited number of cable-affiliated programmers have in the past denied us access to their programming. Our ability to compete successfully will depend on our ability to continue to obtain desirable programming and deliver it to our subscribers at competitive prices. Our programming agreements generally have remaining terms ranging from less than one to up to ten years and contain various renewal and cancellation provisions. We may not be able to renew these agreements on favorable terms, or at all, or these agreements may be canceled prior to expiration of their original terms. If we are unable to renew any of these agreements or the other parties cancel the agreements, we may not
be able to obtain substitute programming, or if we are able to obtain such substitute programming, it may not be comparable in quality or cost to our existing programming.
In addition, many of our programming agreements are long term agreements and contain fixed annual price increases. When offering new programming, or upon expiration of existing contracts, programming suppliers have historically increased the rates they charge us for programming, increasing our costs. We expect this practice to continue. Increases in programming costs could cause us to increase the rates that we charge our subscribers, which could in turn, especially in a difficult economic environment, cause subscribers to terminate their subscriptions or potential new subscribers to refrain from subscribing to our service. Furthermore, due to the economy and other factors, we may be unable to pass programming cost increases on to our subscribers, which could have a material adverse effect on our earnings or cash flow.
Increased subscriber churn or subscriber upgrade and retention costs could materially adversely affect our financial performance.
Turnover of subscribers in the form of subscriber service cancellations, or churn, has a significant financial impact on the results of operations of any subscription television provider, including us, as does the cost of upgrading and retaining subscribers. Any increase in our upgrade and retention costs for our existing subscribers may adversely affect our financial performance or cause us to increase our subscription rates, which could increase churn. Churn may also increase due to factors beyond our control, including churn by subscribers who are unable to pay their monthly subscription fees, a slowing economy, significant signal theft, consumer fraud, a maturing subscriber base and competitive offers. Any of the risks described in this Annual Report that could potentially have a material adverse impact on our cost or service quality or that could result in higher prices for our subscribers could also, in turn, cause an increase in churn and consequently have a material adverse effect on our earnings and financial performance.
Our subscriber acquisition costs could materially increase.
We incur costs relating to subscribers acquired by us and subscribers acquired through third parties. These costs are known as subscriber acquisition costs. For instance, we provide installation incentives to our retailers to enable them to offer standard professional installation as part of the subscriber's purchase or lease of a DIRECTV System. In addition, we pay commissions to retailers for their efforts in offering a DIRECTV System at a lower cost to consumers. Our subscriber acquisition costs may materially increase to the extent we continue or expand current sales promotion activities or introduce other more aggressive promotions, or due to increased competition. Any material increase in subscriber acquisition costs from current levels would negatively impact our earnings and could materially adversely affect our financial performance.
Results are impacted by the effect of, and changes in, United States and Latin America economic conditions and weakening economic conditions may reduce subscriber spending and our rate of growth of subscriber additions and may increase subscriber churn.
Our business may be affected by factors in the United States and other countries in which we operate that are beyond our control, such as downturns in economic activity in a specific country or region, or in the MVPD industry. Factors such as interest rates and the health of the housing market may impact our business. A substantial portion of our revenues comes from residential customers whose spending patterns may be affected by prevailing economic conditions. Our market share in multiple dwelling units such as apartment buildings is lower than that of many of our competitors. If unemployment and foreclosures of single family residences increase, our earnings and financial
performance could be negatively affected more than those of our competitors. In addition, if our customers seek alternative means to obtain video entertainment, they may choose to purchase fewer services from us. Due to the economic and competitive environment, we may need to spend more to acquire and retain customers who in turn spend less on our services. If our average monthly revenue per subscriber, or ARPU, decreases, our margins could become compressed and the long term value of a customer would then decrease. The weak economy may affect our net subscriber additions and reduce subscriber spending and, if these economic conditions continue or deteriorate further, our subscriber growth could decline and our churn rate could increase which would have a material adverse effect on our earnings and financial performance.
DTVLA is subject to various additional risks associated with doing business internationally, which include political instability, economic instability, and foreign currency exchange rate volatility.
All of DTVLA's operating companies are located outside the continental United States. DTVLA operates and has subscribers located throughout Latin America and the Caribbean Basin, which makes it vulnerable to risks of conducting business in foreign markets, including:
In the past, the countries that constitute some of DTVLA's largest markets, including Brazil, Argentina, Colombia and Venezuela have experienced economic crises, caused by external and internal factors, and characterized by exchange rate instability, high inflation, high domestic interest rates, economic contraction, a reduction or cessation of international capital flows, a reduction of liquidity in the banking sector and high unemployment. These economic conditions have often been related to political instability, including political violence. If these economic conditions recur, they could substantially reduce the purchasing power of the population in our markets and materially adversely affect our business.
Because DTVLA offers premium pay television programming, its business is particularly vulnerable to economic downturns. DTVLA has experienced, and may in the future experience, decreases or instability in consumer demand for its programming, as well as subscriber credit problems. DTVLA's inability to adjust its business and operations to adequately address these issues could materially adversely affect its revenues and ability to sustain profitable operations.
Our ability to keep pace with technological developments is uncertain.
In the video industry, changes occur rapidly as new technologies are developed, which could cause our services and products that deliver our services to become obsolete. We may not be able to keep pace with technological developments. If the new technologies on which we intend to focus our investments fail to achieve acceptance in the marketplace or our technology does not work and requires significant cost to replace or fix, we could suffer a material adverse effect on our future competitive position, which could cause a reduction in our revenues and earnings. For example, our competitors could be the first to obtain proprietary technologies that are perceived by the market as being superior. Further, after incurring substantial costs, one or more of the technologies under development by us or any of our strategic partners could become obsolete prior to its introduction.
In addition, technological innovation depends, to a significant extent, on the work of technically skilled employees. Competition for the services of these employees has been vigorous. We cannot assure you that we will be able to continue to attract and retain these employees.
To access technologies and provide products that are necessary for us to remain competitive, particularly in the area of broadband services, we may make future acquisitions and investments and may enter into strategic partnerships with other companies. Such investments may require a commitment of significant capital and human and other resources. The value of such acquisitions, investments and partnerships and the technology accessed may be highly speculative. Arrangements with third parties can lead to contractual and other disputes and dependence on the development and delivery of necessary technology on third parties that we may not be able to control or influence. These relationships may commit us to technologies that are rendered obsolete by other developments or preclude the pursuit of other technologies which may prove to be superior.
New technologies could also create new competitors for us. Entities such as telcos are supporting digital video delivery over existing telephone lines and building out fiber optic lines to enhance their capabilities to deliver programming services. Satellite operators such as SES have begun offering turn-key packages of digital programming on a wholesale basis for distribution by rural telcos. In addition, programming services offered over the Internet have become more prevalent as broadband networks have improved their speed and quality of service. We may not be able to compete successfully with new entrants in the market for video services.
Our business relies on intellectual property, some of which is owned by third parties, and we may inadvertently infringe patents and proprietary rights of others.
Many entities, including some of our competitors, have or may in the future obtain patents and other intellectual property rights that cover or affect products or services related to those that we currently offer or may offer in the future. In general, if a court determines that one or more of our services or the products used to transmit or receive our services infringes on intellectual property owned by others, we and the applicable manufacturers or vendors may be required to cease developing or marketing those services and products, to obtain licenses from the owners of the intellectual property or to redesign those services and products in such a way as to avoid infringing the intellectual property rights. If a third party holds intellectual property rights, it may not allow us or the applicable manufacturers to use its intellectual property at any price, which could materially adversely affect our competitive position.
We may not be aware of all intellectual property rights that our services or the products used to transmit or receive our services may potentially infringe. In addition, patent applications in the United States are confidential until the Patent and Trademark Office issues a patent. Therefore, we cannot evaluate the extent to which our services or the products used to transmit or receive our services may
infringe claims contained in pending patent applications. Further, without lengthy litigation, it is often not possible to determine definitively whether a claim of infringement is valid.
We cannot estimate the extent to which we may be required in the future to obtain intellectual property licenses or the availability and cost of any such licenses. Those costs, and their impact on our earnings, could be material. Damages in patent infringement cases may also include treble damages in certain circumstances. To the extent that we are required to pay royalties to third parties to whom we are not currently making payments, these increased costs of doing business could materially adversely affect our operating results. We are currently being sued in patent infringement actions related to use of technologies in our DTH business. There can be no assurance that the courts will conclude that our services or the products used to transmit or receive our services do not infringe on the rights of third parties, that we or the manufacturers would be able to obtain licenses from these persons on commercially reasonable terms or, if we were unable to obtain such licenses, that we or the manufacturers would be able to redesign our services or the products used to transmit or receive our services to avoid infringement. The final disposition of these claims is not expected to have a material adverse effect on our consolidated financial position, but could possibly be material to our consolidated results of operations for any one period. Further, no assurance can be given that any adverse outcome would not be material to our consolidated financial position.
See "Legal ProceedingsIntellectual Property Litigation" in Part I, Item 3 of this Annual Report.
John C. Malone has significant influence over actions requiring stockholder approval and his interests may differ from ours.
The Chairman of our Board of Directors, John Malone, is also Chairman and Chief Executive of Liberty Media, Chairman of Liberty Global, Inc., and owns significant voting interests in each of DIRECTV, Liberty Media, Liberty Global, and Discovery Communications, Inc. Mr. Malone, his wife and certain trusts for the benefit of their children own shares of DIRECTV common stock, which represent approximately 24.3% of the total voting power of the outstanding shares of DIRECTV as of December 31, 2009. DIRECTV has two classes of common stock, the Class A common stock entitling holders to one vote per share and the Class B common stock entitling holders to 15 votes per share. The shares of DIRECTV Class B common stock also have certain limited consent rights with respect to certain share distributions and certain amendments to the DIRECTV Amended and Restated Certificate of Incorporation. By virtue of such rights as well as Mr. Malone's position as DIRECTV's Chairman, Mr. Malone may have significant influence over the outcome of any corporate transaction or other matters submitted to DIRECTV stockholders for approval, including the election of directors, mergers, consolidations and the sale of all or substantially all of DIRECTV's assets.
We rely on key personnel.
We believe that our future success will depend to a significant extent upon the performance of certain of our key executives. The loss of certain of our key executives could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations.
Construction or launch delays on satellites could materially adversely affect our revenues and earnings.
A key component of our business strategy is our ability to expand our offering of new programming and services, including increased local and HD programming. In order to accomplish this goal, we need to construct and launch new satellites. The construction and launch of satellites are often subject to delays, including satellite and launch vehicle construction delays, periodic unavailability of
reliable launch opportunities due to competition for launch slots, weather and also due to general delays that result when a launch provider experiences a launch failure, and delays in obtaining regulatory approvals. A significant delay in the future delivery of any satellite would materially adversely affect the use of the satellite and thus could materially adversely affect our anticipated revenues and earnings. If satellite construction schedules are not met, there can be no assurance that a launch opportunity will be available at the time a satellite is ready to be launched. Certain delays in satellite construction could also jeopardize a satellite authorization that is conditioned on timely construction and launch of the satellite.
Our satellites are subject to significant launch and operational risks.
Satellites are subject to significant operational risks relating to launch and while in orbit. Launch and operational risks include launch failure, incorrect orbital placement or improper commercial operation. Launch failures result in significant delays in the deployment of satellites because of the need both to construct replacement satellites, which can take up to 36 months, and obtain other launch opportunities. We estimate the overall historical loss rate for all launches of commercial satellites in the last seven years to be approximately 5% but it may be higher. Any significant delays or failures in successfully launching and deploying our satellites could materially adversely affect our ability to generate revenues. While we have traditionally purchased insurance covering the launch and, in limited cases, operation of our satellites, such policies typically cover the loss of the satellite itself or a portion thereof, and not the business interruption or other associated direct and indirect costs. For example, we purchased launch insurance covering a portion of our DIRECTV 12 satellite, which we launched at the end of 2009, and launch vehicle costs in the event of a total loss of the satellite prior to separation from the launch vehicle, but did not purchase in-orbit insurance for it.
In-orbit risks include malfunctions, commonly referred to as anomalies, and collisions with meteoroids, other spacecraft or other space debris. Anomalies occur as a result of various factors, such as satellite manufacturing errors, problems with the power systems or control systems of the satellites and general failures resulting from operating satellites in the harsh space environment. We work closely with our satellite manufacturers to determine and eliminate the potential causes of anomalies in new satellites and provide for redundancies of critical components in the satellites as well as having backup satellite capacity. However, we cannot assure you that we will not experience anomalies in the future, nor can we assure you that our backup satellite capacity will be sufficient for our business purposes. Any single anomaly or series of anomalies could materially adversely affect our operations and revenues and our relationships with our subscribers, as well as our ability to attract new subscribers for our services. Anomalies may also reduce the expected useful life of a satellite, thereby creating additional expenses due to the need to provide replacement or backup satellites and potentially reducing revenues if service is interrupted. Finally, the occurrence of anomalies may materially adversely affect our ability to insure our satellites at commercially reasonable premiums, if at all. While some anomalies are currently covered by existing insurance policies, others are not now covered or may not be covered in the future.
Our ability to earn revenue also depends on the usefulness of our satellites. Each satellite has a limited useful life. A number of factors affect the useful life of a satellite, including, among other things:
Generally, the minimum design life of the satellites in our fleet is between 12 and 16 years. The actual useful lives of the satellites may be shorter or longer, in some cases significantly. Our operating results could be adversely affected if the useful life of any of our satellites were significantly shorter than 12 years from the date of launch.
In the event of a failure or loss of any of our satellites, we may relocate another satellite and use it as a replacement for the failed or lost satellite. In the event of a complete satellite failure, our services provided via that satellite could be unavailable for several days or longer while backup in-orbit satellites are repositioned and services are moved. We are not insured for any resultant lost revenues. The use of backup satellite capacity for our programming may require us to discontinue some programming services due to potentially reduced capacity on the backup satellite. Any relocation of our satellites would require prior FCC approval and, among other things, a demonstration to the FCC that the replacement satellite would not cause additional interference compared to the failed or lost satellite. Such FCC approval may not be obtained. We believe we have or will have in 2010, in-orbit satellite capacity to expeditiously recover transmission of most DIRECTV U.S. programming in the event one of our in-orbit satellites fails. However, programming continuity cannot be assured in the event of multiple satellite losses. DTVLA leases its satellites and may not have a readily available replacement in the event of a failure or loss of any of its satellites. Because we currently have no back-up capacity in place for DTVLA, programming continuity in the countries in which DTVLA operates cannot be assured in the event of a single satellite loss.
The cost of commercial insurance coverage on our satellites or the loss of a satellite that is not insured could materially adversely affect our earnings.
We use in-orbit and launch insurance to mitigate the potential financial impact of satellite fleet in-orbit and launch failures unless the premium costs are considered uneconomic relative to the risk of satellite failure. When insurance is obtained, it generally covers all or a portion of the unamortized book value of covered satellites. Although the insurance does not compensate for business interruption or loss of future revenues or subscribers, we rely on in-orbit spare satellites and excess transponder capacity at key orbital slots to mitigate the impact that a satellite failure may have on our ability to provide service.
The price, terms and availability of insurance fluctuate significantly. Launch and in-orbit policies on satellites may not continue to be available on commercially reasonable terms or at all. In addition to higher premiums, insurance policies may provide for higher deductibles, shorter coverage periods and satellite health-related policy exclusions.
Any launch vehicle failure, or loss or destruction of any of our satellites, even if insured, could have a material adverse effect on our financial condition and results of operations, our ability to comply with FCC regulatory obligations and our ability to fund the construction or acquisition of replacement satellites in a timely fashion, or at all.
At December 31, 2009, the net book value of in-orbit satellites was $1,984 million, none of which was insured.
We depend on the Communications Act for access to cable-affiliated programming and changes impacting that access could materially adversely affect us.
We purchase a substantial percentage of our programming from programmers that are affiliated with cable system operators, including key RSNs. Currently, under certain provisions of the Communications Act governing access to programming, cable-affiliated programmers generally must sell and deliver their programming services to all MVPDs on non-discriminatory terms and conditions. The Communications Act and the FCC rules also prohibit certain types of exclusive programming contracts involving programming from cable- affiliated programmers.
Any change in the Communications Act or the FCC's rules that would permit programmers that are affiliated with cable system operators to refuse to provide such programming or to impose discriminatory terms or conditions could materially adversely affect our ability to acquire programming on a cost-effective basis, or at all. The Communications Act prohibitions on certain cable industry exclusive contracting practices with cable-affiliated programmers were extended by the FCC through October 2012, though it is currently considering proposals that could shorten the term of this extension if a cable operator could show that competition from new entrant MVPDs had reached a sufficient penetration level in the relevant marketing area.
In addition, certain cable providers have denied us and other MVPDs access to a limited number of channels created by programmers with which the cable providers are affiliated. In other cases, such programmers have denied MVPDs high definition feeds of such programming. The cable providers have asserted that they are not required to provide such programming (or resolution) due to the manner in which that programming is distributed, which they argue is not covered by the program access provisions of the Communications Act. The FCC recently adopted new rules under which such programming would also be subject to certain non-exclusivity and non-discrimination requirements. These rules have not yet gone into effect, and likely will be challenged in court. In addition, they will require a further evidentiary showing by an MVPD seeking access to such programming. If these new rules are successfully challenged in court or we cannot make the required evidentiary showing, we may continue to be precluded from obtaining such programming, which in turn could materially adversely affect our ability to compete in regions serviced by those cable providers. Although the FCC also addressed some of these issues in a limited fashion by placing access conditions on certain regional sports networks affiliated with Time Warner Cable, Inc. and Comcast Corporation, it is not clear that we will be able to assure continued access to this programming on fair and nondiscriminatory terms.
DIRECTV itself is subject to similar restrictions with respect to certain programmers affiliated with us. The FCC imposed a number of conditions on its approval of Liberty Media's acquisition of News Corporation's interest in DIRECTV in 2007. Among other things, those conditions require DIRECTV to offer national and regional programming services it controls to all MVPDs on non-exclusive and non-discriminatory terms and conditions, and prohibits DIRECTV from entering into exclusive arrangements with affiliated programmers or unduly influencing such programmers in their dealings with other MVPDs. The conditions also require DIRECTV to engage in "baseball style" arbitration if elected by an MVPD where the parties cannot agree on terms and conditions for carriage of RSN programming owned, managed or controlled by DIRECTV. This condition currently applies to the three RSNs DIRECTV acquired from Liberty Media in 2009.
Changes to and implementation of statutory copyright license requirements may negatively affect our ability to deliver local and distant broadcast stations, as well as other aspects of our business.
We carry the signals of distant broadcast stations pursuant to statutory copyright licenses contained in the Satellite Home Viewer Improvement Act (SHVIA) and its successors, including the Satellite
Home Viewer Extension and Reauthorization Act of 2004 (SHVERA). Critical provisions of SHVERA related to distant signals were due to expire at the end of 2009, but Congress has extended that deadline to February 28, 2010. Expiration of or changes to SHVERA, the FCC's interpretation, implementation and enforcement of provisions of SHVIA and SHVERA, as well as judicial decisions interpreting and enforcing these laws, could hamper our ability to retransmit distant network and superstation signals, reduce the number of our existing or future subscribers that can qualify for receipt of these signals, impose costs on us in connection with the process of complying with the rules, or subject us to fines, monetary damages or injunctions.
SHVERA, related laws, and FCC implementing rules also govern our provision of local broadcast signals. While those provisions of SHVERA do not expire on February 28, 2010, they may be changed by Congress. Such changes could limit our ability to deliver local broadcast signals. More generally, we have limited capacity, and the projected number of markets in which we can deliver local broadcast programming will continue to be constrained because of SHVERA's "carry-one, carry-all" requirement and may be reduced depending on changes to that requirement, the FCC's interpretation of its rules in pending and future rulemaking and complaint proceedings, as well as judicial decisions interpreting must carry requirements. We may not be able to comply with these must carry rules, or compliance may mean that we are not able to use capacity that could otherwise be used for new or additional local or national programming services. In addition, the FCC has issued an increasing obligation for carriage of local digital broadcast transmissions in HD format. We may be unable to comply with this requirement in markets where we currently carry such signals without ceasing HD local service entirely in some markets, and would be precluded from launching additional markets currently planned.
In addition, the FCC has adopted rules requiring us to negotiate in good faith with broadcast stations seeking carriage outside of the mandatory carriage regime described elsewhere. The rules for "retransmission consent" negotiations, which are similar to those that have applied to broadcast stations for years, require us to comply with certain indicia of good faith negotiation, as well as to demonstrate good faith under a "totality of the circumstances" test. Failure to comply with these rules could subject us to administrative sanctions and other penalties.
Satellite programming signals have been stolen and may be stolen in the future, which could result in lost revenues and would cause us to incur incremental operating costs that do not result in subscriber acquisition.
The delivery of subscription programming requires the use of conditional access technology to limit access to programming to only those who subscribe and are authorized to view it. The conditional access system uses, among other things, encryption technology to protect the transmitted signal from unauthorized access. It is illegal to create, sell or otherwise distribute software or devices to circumvent that conditional access technology. However, theft of cable and satellite programming has been widely reported, and the access cards used in our conditional access system have been compromised in the past and could be compromised in the future.
We have undertaken various initiatives with respect to our conditional access system to further enhance the security of the DIRECTV signal. To help combat signal theft, we provide our subscribers with more advanced access cards that we believe significantly enhance the security of our signal. Currently, we believe these access cards have not been compromised. However, we cannot guarantee that those advanced access cards will prevent the theft of our satellite programming signals in the future. Furthermore, there can be no assurance that we will succeed in developing the technology we need to effectively restrict or eliminate signal theft. If our current access cards are compromised, our revenue and our ability to contract for video and audio services provided by programmers could be
materially adversely affected. In addition, our operating costs could increase if we attempt to implement additional measures to combat signal theft.
The ability to maintain FCC licenses and other regulatory approvals is critical to our business.
If we do not obtain all requisite U.S. regulatory approvals for the construction, launch and operation of any of our existing or future satellites for the use of frequencies at the orbital locations planned for these satellites or for the provision of service, or the licenses obtained impose operational restrictions on us, our ability to generate revenue and profits could be materially adversely affected. In addition, under certain circumstances, existing licenses are subject to revocation or modification and upon expiration, renewal may not be granted. If existing licenses are not renewed, or are revoked or materially modified, our ability to generate revenue could be materially adversely affected.
In certain cases, satellite system operators are obligated by governmental regulation and procedures of the ITU to coordinate the operation of their systems with other users of the radio spectrum in order to avoid causing interference to those other users. Coordination may require a satellite system operator to reduce power, avoid operating on certain frequencies, relocate its satellite to another orbital location and/or otherwise modify planned or existing operations. For example, the FCC has conditionally granted Spectrum Five authority to provide DBS service using frequencies assigned to it by the Government of the Netherlands from an orbital slot located halfway between slots at which we currently operate. Other operators have filed similar requests. We believe this closer proximity, if ultimately implemented, would significantly increase the risk of interference which could adversely affect the quality of service provided to our subscribers. We may not be able to successfully coordinate our satellites to the extent we are required to do so, and any modifications we make in the course of coordination, or any inability to successfully coordinate, may materially adversely affect our ability to generate revenue. In addition, the FCC is currently conducting a rulemaking proceeding to consider, among other things, the adoption of operating parameters under which such "tweener" systems would be automatically deemed coordinated.
Other regulatory risks include, among others:
All of our FCC satellite authorizations are subject to conditions imposed by the FCC in addition to the FCC's general authority to modify, cancel or revoke those authorizations. Use of FCC licenses and other authorizations are often subject to conditions, including technical requirements and implementation deadlines. Failure to comply with such requirements, or comply in a timely manner, could lead to the loss of authorizations and could have a material adverse effect on our ability to generate revenue. For example, loss of an authorization could potentially reduce the amount of programming and other services available to our subscribers. The materiality of such a loss of
authorization would vary based upon, among other things, the orbital location at which the frequencies may be used.
In addition, in connection with its approval of Liberty Media's acquisition of News Corporation's interest in DIRECTV in 2007, the FCC required the parties to the transaction to sever all attributable links between DTVPR and Liberty Cablevision Puerto Rico, Ltd. (a subsidiary of Liberty Global, Inc. in which John Malone holds an interest). After attempts to sell DTVPR were unsuccessful, DIRECTV placed its entire interest in DTVPR into a trust, and it is currently operated by an independent trustee pending divestiture. DIRECTV believes that this trust effectively renders its interest in DTVPR non-attributable, consistent with past FCC precedent, and thus satisfies the FCC condition. However, the FCC has not ruled on the efficacy of the trust, and may take a different view. If so, we may have to find an alternative method for severing the attributable links between the two companies, which could adversely effect our financial performance.
Moreover, some of our authorizations and future applications may be subject to petitions and oppositions, and there can be no assurance that our authorizations will not be canceled, revoked or modified or that our applications will not be denied. Moreover, the FCC has adopted new rules for licensing satellites that may limit our ability to file applications and secure licenses in the future.
Congress has continued to shape the scope of the FCC's regulatory authority and enact legislation that affects our business. In addition, FCC proceedings to implement legislation and enact additional regulations are ongoing. The outcomes of these legislative or regulatory proceedings or their effect on our business cannot be predicted.
We control a substantial portion of interaction with our customers and we may not be as efficient or effective as our outsourced providers resulting in higher costs.
We have a number of insourced call centers and installation service providers to handle customer service calls, installations and repairs. We may not be as efficient or effective as our outsourced providers resulting in higher costs. Also, there is a risk that our customer satisfaction could be impacted, which may lead to higher subscriber churn and an inability to attract new subscribers. In addition, our outsourced providers could encounter financial difficulties, which may disrupt our ability to make installation service calls or to provide a level of customer service we expect, and which also may lead to higher subscriber churn and an inability to attract new subscribers.
We have significant debt.
We have debt totaling $8.0 billion as of December 31, 2009. If we do not have sufficient income or other sources of cash, it could affect our ability to service debt and pay other obligations.
As a result of completing the merger transactions, we assumed, on a consolidated basis, approximately $1.9 billion of indebtedness to Bank of America and also assumed rights and obligations connected with the related equity collars. We requested that Bank of America settle the equity collars prior to their expiration, pursuant to agreed upon market practices. In February 2010, we completed the settlement of the equity collars and repaid the indebtedness.
We face risks arising from possible union legislation in the United States.
There is a possibility that the proposed Employee Free Choice Act, or EFCA, may be enacted. The EFCA, also referred to as the "card check" bill, if passed in its current form could significantly change the nature of labor relations in the United States, specifically, how union elections and contract negotiations are conducted. With respect to our owned and operated home service provider installation
business, it would be easier for unions to win elections and we could face arbitrator-imposed labor scheduling, costs and standards. Therefore, the EFCA could impose more labor relations requirements and union activity on our business, thereby potentially increasing our costs, and could have a material adverse effect on our overall competitive position. Currently, neither we nor most of our outsourced home service provider installation vendors have any unions.
We may not be able to obtain or retain certain foreign regulatory approvals.
There can be no assurance that any current regulatory approvals held by us are, or will remain, sufficient in the view of foreign regulatory authorities, or that any additional necessary approvals will be granted on a timely basis or at all, in all jurisdictions in which we operate, or that applicable restrictions in those jurisdictions will not be unduly burdensome. The failure to obtain the authorizations necessary to operate satellites or provide satellite service internationally could have a material adverse effect on our ability to generate revenue and our overall competitive position.
We may have a significant indemnity obligation to Liberty Media, which is not limited in amount or subject to any cap, if parts of the merger transactions are treated as a taxable transaction.
Despite obtaining a private letter ruling from the IRS and an opinion of legal counsel to the effect that parts of the merger transactions with Liberty Media qualified as a tax-free distribution for U.S. federal income tax purposes, the continuing validity of such ruling and opinion is subject to the accuracy of factual representations and certain assumptions. Any inaccuracy in such representations could invalidate the ruling or failure to comply with any undertakings made in connection with such tax opinion, could alter the conclusions reached in such opinion. Even if parts of the merger transactions otherwise qualify for tax-free treatment, it would result in a significant U.S. federal income tax liability to Liberty Media if one or more persons acquire a 50% or greater interest in the DIRECTV common stock as part of a plan or series of related transactions that includes the merger transactions within a certain time frame. The process for determining whether an acquisition is part of a plan under these rules is complex, inherently factual and subject to interpretation of the facts and circumstances of a particular case. Liberty Media or DIRECTV might inadvertently cause or permit a prohibited change in the ownership of DIRECTV to occur, thereby triggering a tax liability to Liberty Media.
In addition, Liberty Media entered into a tax matters agreement with News Corporation in connection with the News/Liberty transaction in 2008, pursuant to which Liberty Media agreed, among other things, to indemnify News Corporation and certain related persons for taxes resulting from actions taken by Liberty Media or its affiliates that cause the News/Liberty transaction (or related restructuring transactions) not to qualify as tax-free transactions. Liberty Media's indemnification obligations to News Corporation and certain related persons are not limited in amount or subject to any cap.
Under a Tax Sharing Agreement between Liberty Media and us, we are obligated to indemnify Liberty Media and certain related persons for any losses and taxes resulting from the failure of the merger transactions to be tax-free transactions in certain circumstances and from any losses resulting from Liberty Media's indemnity obligations to News Corporation under the tax matters agreement between News Corporation and Liberty. If we are required to indemnify Liberty Media or certain related persons under the circumstances set forth in the Tax Sharing Agreement, we may be subject to substantial liabilities not limited in amount or subject to any cap, which could materially adversely affect our financial position and short term operating results.
We may determine to forgo certain transactions in order to avoid the risk of incurring significant tax-related liabilities.
We might determine to forgo certain transactions that might have otherwise been advantageous in order to preserve the tax-free treatment of the Liberty Transaction or the News/Liberty transaction. In particular, we might determine to continue to operate certain of our business operations for the foreseeable future even if a liquidation or sale of such business might have otherwise been advantageous. Moreover, we might determine to forgo certain transactions, including stock issuances, asset dispositions or other strategic transactions for some period of time following the mergers so as not to run afoul of the 50-percent limitation. In addition, our potential indemnity obligation under the Tax Sharing Agreement might discourage, delay or prevent a change of control transaction for some period of time following the Liberty Transaction.
The excess share provision in our charter has the effect of placing limitations on the shares held by certain stockholders, which may make it difficult for a third party to acquire our company.
The excess share provision of our charter is designed to prevent transfers of our stock that could cause potentially adverse tax effects relating to the Liberty Transaction. Accordingly, if during the first year after the Liberty Transaction closed there is a purported transfer or non-transfer event that meets certain requirements, including causing a person to become, actually or constructively, the owner of 10% or more of any class of our capital stock, then that acquisition will be null and void to the intended holder, such shares of our common stock will be transferred to a trust for the exclusive benefit of a charitable beneficiary, and the purported transferee will have no rights in such shares, except to receive the lesser of (i)(A) the amount the transferee paid for such shares or (B) in the case of a non-transfer event or a purported transfer in which value was not given for the shares, the fair market value of the stock on the date of such event or transfer and (ii) the net proceeds of the sale described in the next sentence. The trust is required to sell the DIRECTV excess shares to a permitted transferee who will not trigger the application of the excess share provision. We also have the right to redeem DIRECTV excess shares held by the trust. These provisions may make it difficult for a third party to make an offer to acquire our company.
The success of our regional sports networks, or RSNs, depends on audience acceptance of their programs and programming services which is difficult to predict.
Entertainment content production is an inherently risky business because the revenue derived from the production and distribution of a cable program depends primarily upon its acceptance by the public, which is difficult to predict. The commercial success of a cable program depends on the quality and acceptance of other competing programs released into the marketplace at or near the same time, the availability of alternative forms of entertainment and leisure time activities, general economic conditions and other tangible and intangible factors, many of which are difficult to predict. Audience sizes for cable programming are important factors when cable and DTH satellite video providers negotiate affiliation agreements with cable programmers and, in the case of cable programming, when advertising rates are negotiated. Consequently, low public acceptance of our RSNs' cable programs could hurt the ability of our RSNs to maintain rates charged to affiliates, subscribers and advertisers. The success of our RSNs is dependent upon our ability to obtain and retain broadcast rights from professional sports teams, college sports conferences and other sources of sports programming. There is no assurance that we will be able to obtain or retain such rights on terms that are economically reasonable or at all, and our failure do to so could materially adversely affect the financial position and operating results of our RSNs.
We face risks arising from the outcome of various legal proceedings.
We are involved in various legal proceedings, including those arising in the ordinary course of business and those described under the caption "Legal Proceedings" in Item 3. Such matters include investigations and legal actions by state attorneys general where regulators may seek monetary damages and may also seek to require or prohibit certain actions by the Company with regard to its current or potential customers. While we do not believe that any of these proceedings alone or in the aggregate will have a material effect on our consolidated financial position, an adverse outcome in one or more of these matters or the imposition of conditions by regulators on the conduct of our business could be material to our consolidated results of operations and cash flows for any one period. Further, no assurance can be given that any adverse outcome would not be material to our consolidated financial position.
We may face other risks described from time to time in periodic reports filed by us with the SEC.
We urge you to consider the above risk factors carefully in evaluating forward-looking statements contained in this Annual Report. The forward-looking statements included in this Annual Report are made only as of the date of this Annual Report and we undertake no obligation to publicly update these forward-looking statements to reflect subsequent events or circumstances.
ITEM 2. PROPERTIES
As of December 31, 2009, we had approximately 230 owned and leased locations operating in the United States and Latin America. The major locations of the DIRECTV U.S. segment include eight administrative offices, two broadcast centers and six call centers. The major locations of the DIRECTV Latin America segment include 10 administrative offices, four broadcast centers and eight call centers. We consider our properties adequate for our present needs.
ITEM 3. LEGAL PROCEEDINGS
(a) Material pending legal proceedings, other than ordinary routine litigation incidental to the business, to which we became or were a party during the year ended December 31, 2009 or subsequent thereto, but before the filing of the report, are summarized below:
Intellectual Property Litigation. We are a defendant in several unrelated lawsuits claiming infringement of various patents relating to various aspects of our businesses. In certain of these cases other industry participants are also defendants, and also in certain of these cases we expect that any potential liability would be the responsibility of our equipment vendors pursuant to applicable contractual indemnification provisions. To the extent that the allegations in these lawsuits can be analyzed by us at this stage of their proceedings, we believe the claims are without merit and intend to defend the actions vigorously. The final disposition of these claims is not expected to have a material adverse effect on our consolidated financial position, but could possibly be material to our consolidated results of operations of any one period. No assurance can be given that any adverse outcome would not be material to our consolidated financial position.
Finisar Corporation. As previously reported, we were successful in 2008 getting the jury verdict in the Finisar case vacated on appeal. The original verdict found the patent to be valid and willfully infringed, and the jury awarded approximately $79 million in damages. The trial court increased the
damages award by $25 million because of the jury finding of willful infringement and awarded pre-judgment interest of $13 million. DIRECTV was also ordered to pay into escrow $1.60 per new set-top receiver manufactured for use with the DIRECTV system beginning June 17, 2006 and continuing until the patent expires in 2012 or was otherwise found to be invalid. On April 18, 2008, the Court of Appeals reversed the verdict of the district court in part, vacated the findings of infringement, and remanded for further proceedings on the remaining issues finding that the district court had applied erroneous interpretations of certain terms of the claims. On remand, we sought and obtained summary judgment on the invalidity of all remaining claims, and the case against DIRECTV was dismissed on May 19, 2009. Finisar filed a Notice of Appeal with the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, and oral argument on the appeal was held on January 6, 2010. On January 8, 2010, the Court of Appeals affirmed per curiam the grant of summary judgment on all claims. This case is now resolved and there will be no further proceedings in this matter.
Early Cancellation Fees. In 2008, a number of plaintiffs filed putative class action lawsuits in state and federal courts challenging the early cancellation fees DIRECTV U.S. assesses its customers when they do not fulfill their programming commitments. Several of these lawsuits are pendingsome in California state court purporting to represent statewide classes, and some in federal courts purporting to represent nationwide classes. The lawsuits seek both monetary and injunctive relief. While the theories of liability vary, the lawsuits generally challenge these fees under state consumer protection laws as both unfair and inadequately disclosed to customers. Each of the lawsuits is at an early stage. Where possible, we are moving to compel these cases to arbitration in accordance with our Customer Agreement, but in states such as California where the enforceability of the arbitration provision is limited, we intend to defend against these allegations in court. We believe that our early cancellation fees are adequately disclosed, and represent reasonable estimates of the costs we incur when customers cancel service before fulfilling their programming commitments.
From time to time, we receive investigative inquiries or subpoenas from state authorities with respect to alleged violations of state statutes. These inquiries may lead to legal proceedings in some cases. Currently, we are the subject of an investigation by a multistate group of state attorneys general regarding alleged violations of their respective state consumer protection statutes. The state of Washington, originally a part of the multistate group, filed an action in Washington state court in December 2009 seeking injunctive relief and civil penalties of up to $2,000 per violation of Washington's Consumer Protection Act. The multistate investigation and the Washington lawsuit allege a variety of purported violations of the statutes, but primarily allege that we do not adequately disclose the terms and conditions of consumer offers, including subscriber commitments and early cancellation fees. We are cooperating with the multistate group by providing information about our sales and marketing practices and customer complaints. We are defending the Washington lawsuit.
Liberty Media Corporation Litigation. We have been notified that a purported class action was filed on February 9, 2010 in Delaware Chancery Court against certain past and present directors of Liberty Media Corporation alleging, among other things, that the defendants breached their fiduciary duties as Liberty board members in connection with the business terms and approval process by Liberty stockholders of the merger of Liberty Entertainment, Inc. with a subsidiary of DIRECTV as part of the Liberty Transaction. The plaintiff purports to represent approximately 85 former LMDIB stockholders (other than the defendants) that allegedly held approximately 1.8 million LMDIB shares prior to the consummation of the Liberty Transaction. The complaint alleges, among other things, that John Malone and certain other LMDIB stockholders received disparate allocation of consideration in the Liberty Transaction. The complaint seeks equitable reallocation and disgorgement of the improper consideration received by the defendants and other relief. The defendants are seeking indemnification and have tendered defense of this litigation to DIRECTV pursuant to agreements executed as part of
the Liberty Transaction. We are in the process of assessing the merits of the allegations in the complaint and the indemnification obligations of DIRECTV regarding this litigation.
Other. We are subject to other legal proceedings and claims that arise in the ordinary course of our business. The amount of ultimate liability with respect to such actions is not expected to materially affect our financial position, results of operations or liquidity.
(b) The following previously reported legal proceedings were terminated during the fourth quarter ended December 31, 2009:
Legal Proceedings Regarding the Liberty Transaction. As previously reported, multiple purported class action complaints were filed against The DIRECTV Group, Inc., Liberty Media and The DIRECTV Group Board of Directors in the Delaware Court of Chancery and California State Court on behalf of the public stockholders of DIRECTV Group. Four stockholder class action complaints were brought in Delaware Chancery Court from May 12, 2009 to May 19, 2009, all of which were subsequently consolidated on May 22, 2009, which we refer to as the Delaware Action. One stockholder class action complaint was brought in California State Court on May 29, 2009, which we refer to as the California Action. The consolidated Delaware complaint and the California complaint alleged, among other things, that the members of the DIRECTV Group Board of Directors breached their fiduciary duties in approving the merger agreement with Liberty Media. On October 16, 2009, all of the parties to the Delaware Action entered into a Stipulation and Agreement of Compromise, Settlement and Release. After a hearing on November 25, 2009, the settlement agreement was approved by the Delaware court and a final judgment was entered on that date. The terms of the settlement are set forth in the Stipulation and the Notice of Settlement filed as Exhibits 99.1 and 99.2, respectively to the DIRECTV Group's Current Report on Form 8-K filed on October 20, 2009.
In September 2009, the California Action was stayed pending conclusion of the consolidated Delaware Action. The ruling in the Delaware Action is expected to result in the formal dismissal of the California Action.
ITEM 4. SUBMISSION OF MATTERS TO A VOTE OF SECURITY HOLDERS
At the special meeting of stockholders held on November 19, 2009, the following matters were submitted to a vote of the stockholders of DIRECTV Group:
Item No. 1
The adoption of the Agreement and Plan of Merger by and among Liberty Media Corporation, Liberty Entertainment, Inc., The DIRECTV Group, Inc., DIRECTV, DTVG One, Inc. and DTVG Two, Inc. The final voting results were:
Item No. 2
The approval of the Voting and Right of First Refusal Agreement by The DIRECTV Group, Inc., Liberty Entertainment, Inc., DIRECTV, John C. Malone, Leslie Malone, The Tracy L. Neal Trust A and the Evan D. Malone Trust A. The final voting results were:
Item No. 3
The adjournment of the special meeting, if there are not sufficient votes. The final voting results were:
All matters voted on at the special meeting were approved.
ITEM 5. MARKET FOR THE REGISTRANT'S COMMON EQUITY, RELATED STOCKHOLDER MATTERS AND ISSUER PURCHASES OF EQUITY SECURITIES
Common Stock Price
Our Class A common stock is publicly traded on The NASDAQ Global Select Market under the symbol "DTV." The following table sets forth for the quarters indicated the high and low sales prices for our Class A common stock, as reported on the NASDAQ Global Select Market. From January 1, 2008 through November 18, 2009, the stock that traded was the common stock of The DIRECTV Group, Inc. On November 19, 2009, we completed our merger with Liberty Entertainment Inc., and from that date, the stock traded on the NASDAQ is the Class A common stock of DIRECTV.
As of the close of business on February 22, 2010, there were 70,617 holders of record of our Class A common stock. Our Class B common stock held by the Malones is not registered and does not trade on any public market.
Dividend Rights and Other Stockholder Matters
Holders of our common stock are entitled to such dividends and other distributions in cash, stock or property as may be declared by our Board of Directors in its sole discretion, subject to the preferential and other dividend rights of any outstanding series of our preferred stock. There were no shares of our preferred stock outstanding at December 31, 2009.
No dividends on our common stock have been declared by our Board of Directors for more than five years. We have no current plans to pay any dividends on either class of our common stock. We currently expect to use our future earnings, if any, for the development of our businesses or other corporate purposes, including share repurchases.
DIRECTV U.S. is subject to restrictive covenants under its credit facility. These covenants limit the ability of DIRECTV U.S. to, among other things, make restricted payments, including dividends, loans or advances to us.
Information regarding compensation plans under which our equity securities may be issued is included in Item 12 through incorporation by reference to our Proxy Statement for the Annual Meeting of Stockholders scheduled to be held on June 3, 2010.
Share Repurchase Program
Since 2006 our Board of Directors has approved multiple authorizations for the repurchase of over $13 billion of our Class A common stock, including $3.5 billion of authorized repurchases announced on February 18, 2010. The authorizations allow us to repurchase our Class A common stock from time to time through open market purchases and negotiated transactions or otherwise. The timing, nature and amount of such transactions will depend on a variety of factors, including market conditions and the program may be suspended, discontinued or accelerated at any time. The sources of funds for the purchases is our existing cash on hand, cash from operations and potential additional borrowings. Purchases are made on the open market, through block trades and other negotiated transactions. Repurchased shares are retired but remain authorized for registration and issuance in the future.
All purchases were made in accordance with Rule 10b-18 of Securities Exchange Act of 1934. A summary of the repurchase activity for the three months ended December 31, 2009 is as follows:
Share repurchases were suspended from October 20, 2009 until February 2010, during the pendency of the vote on the Liberty Transaction and thereafter while the Collar Loan was repaid and the associated equity collars were unwound.
For additional information regarding our share repurchases see Note 13 of the Notes to the Consolidated Financial Statements in Part II, Item 8 of this Annual Report.
ITEM 6. SELECTED FINANCIAL DATA
See the Notes to the Consolidated Financial Statements and Management's Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations for additional information regarding other significant transactions during each of the three years in the period ended December 31, 2009.
ITEM 7. MANAGEMENT'S DISCUSSION AND ANALYSIS OF FINANCIAL CONDITION AND RESULTS OF OPERATIONS
The following is a discussion of our results of operations and financial condition. This discussion should be read in conjunction with the consolidated financial statements and related notes included elsewhere in this Annual Report. Information in this section is organized as follows:
SUMMARY RESULTS OF OPERATIONS AND FINANCIAL CONDITION
Reference should be made to the notes to the Consolidated Financial Statements.
Selected Segment Data
SIGNIFICANT TRANSACTIONS AFFECTING THE COMPARABILITY OF THE RESULTS OF OPERATIONS
Liberty Transaction. On November 19, 2009, The DIRECTV Group, Inc., or DIRECTV Group, and Liberty Media Corporation, which we refer to as Liberty or Liberty Media, obtained shareholder approval of and closed a series of related transactions which we refer to collectively as the Liberty Transaction. The Liberty Transaction included the split-off of certain of the assets of the Liberty Entertainment group into Liberty Entertainment, Inc., or LEI, which was then split-off from Liberty. Following the split-off, DIRECTV Group and LEI merged with subsidiaries of DIRECTV. As a result of Liberty Transaction, DIRECTV Group, which is comprised of the DIRECTV U.S. and DIRECTV Latin America businesses, and LEI, which held Liberty's 57% interest in DIRECTV Group, a 100% interest in three regional sports networks, a 65% interest in Game Show Network, LLC, approximately $120 million in cash and cash equivalents and approximately $2.1 billion of indebtedness and a series of related equity collars became wholly-owned subsidiaries of DIRECTV.
The Liberty Transaction has been accounted for using the acquisition method of accounting pursuant to accounting standards for business combinations. DIRECTV Group has been treated as the acquiring corporation for accounting and financial reporting purposes, and accordingly the historical financial statements of DIRECTV Group have become the historical financial statements of DIRECTV. The acquisition date fair value of consideration paid, in the form of DIRECTV common stock, for the assets and liabilities of LEI (excluding LEI's interest in DIRECTV Group) has been allocated to a premium expensed at the close of the transaction and to LEI's other tangible and intangible assets acquired and liabilities assumed based on their estimated acquisition date fair values, with any excess being treated as goodwill. The assets, liabilities and results of operations of LEI have been consolidated beginning on the acquisition date, November 19, 2009.
As a result of the Liberty Transaction, we recorded $491 million in charges to "Liberty transaction and related charges" in the Consolidated Statements of Operations for the year ended December 31, 2009, which is comprised of: a $337 million charge related to a premium paid to LEI shareholders to complete the merger in the form of an equity interest that exceeded the fair value of net assets acquired by DIRECTV; $43 million of costs incurred to complete the transaction, including legal, accounting, financial printing, investment banking and other costs; and $111 million in net losses recorded for the partial settlement of the equity collars and stock options and stock appreciation rights held by Liberty employees subsequent to the acquisition date, and adjustments of the equity collars and stock options and stock appreciation rights carried as liabilities to fair value as of December 31, 2009.
As part of the Liberty Transaction, we assumed a credit facility with a principal balance of $1,878 million, which we refer to as the Collar Loan, and a series of related equity collars which were in a liability position with an estimated acquisition date fair value of $369 million. In connection with the assumption of the Collar Loan, we agreed with the lending bank to promptly repay the Collar Loan and settle the equity collars, which is based on DTV shares. From the acquisition date to December 31, 2009, we repaid a total of $751 million, including $676 million in principal payments and $75 million in payments to settle a portion of the equity collars.
Cash paid, net of cash acquired in connection with the transaction was $97 million and includes a $226 million repayment of LEI's existing loan from Liberty at the close of the transaction and $43 million of cash paid for transaction costs, partially offset by $120 million in cash at LEI, and $56 million of cash at the regional sports networks.
See Note 3 of the Notes to the Consolidated Financial Statements in Part II, Item 8 of this Annual Report, which we incorporate herein by reference. Financial Statements and Supplementary Data for additional information regarding these transactions and Amendment No. 5 to DIRECTV's Registration Statement on Form S-4 filed with the SEC on October 20, 2009.
180 Connect. In July 2008, we acquired 100% of 180 Connect's outstanding common stock and exchangeable shares. Simultaneously, in a separate transaction, UniTek USA, LLC acquired 100% of 180 Connect's cable service operating unit and operations in certain of our installation services markets in exchange for satellite installation operations in certain markets and $7 million in cash. These transactions provide us with control over a significant portion of DIRECTV U.S.' home service provider network. We paid $91 million in cash, net of the $7 million we received from UniTek USA, for the acquisition, including the equity purchase price, repayment of assumed debt and related transaction costs.
Darlene Transaction. On January 30, 2007, we acquired Darlene's 14% equity interest in DLA LLC for $325 million in cash. We accounted for this acquisition using the purchase method of accounting.
In addition to the items described above, the following items had a significant effect on the comparability of our operating results and financial position as of and for the years ended December 31, 2009, 2008 and 2007:
Lease Program. On March 1, 2006, DIRECTV U.S. introduced a new set-top receiver lease program. Prior to March 1, 2006, we expensed most set-top receivers provided to new and existing DIRECTV U.S. subscribers upon activation as a subscriber acquisition or upgrade and retention cost in the Consolidated Statements of Operations. Subsequent to the introduction of our lease program, we lease most set-top receivers provided to new and existing subscribers, and therefore capitalize the set-top receivers in "Property and equipment, net" in the Consolidated Balance Sheets.
The following table sets forth the amount of DIRECTV U.S. set-top receivers we capitalized, and depreciation expense we recorded, under the lease program for the years ended December 31:
Financing Transactions. On September 22, 2009, DIRECTV U.S. issued $1 billion in five year 4.750% senior notes due in 2014 at a 0.3% discount resulting in $997 million of proceeds. DIRECTV U.S. also issued $1 billion in 10 year 5.875% senior notes due in 2019 at a 0.7% discount resulting in $993 million of proceeds.
On September 22, 2009, DIRECTV U.S. purchased, pursuant to a tender offer, $583 million of its then outstanding $910 million 8.375% senior notes at a price of 103.125% plus accrued and unpaid interest, for a total of $603 million. On September 23, 2009, DIRECTV U.S. exercised its right to redeem the remaining $327 million of the 8.375% senior notes at a price of 102.792% plus accrued and
unpaid interest. DIRECTV U.S. redeemed the remaining 8.375% senior notes on October 23, 2009 for a total of $339 million.
The purchase of our 8.375% senior notes resulted in a 2009 pre-tax charge of $34 million, $21 million after tax, of which $29 million resulted from the premium paid for redemption of our 8.375% senior notes and $5 million resulted from the write-off of deferred debt issuance costs and other transaction costs. The charge was recorded in "Other, net" in our Consolidated Statements of Operations.
In May 2008, DIRECTV U.S. issued $1.5 billion in senior notes and amended its senior secured credit facility to include a new $1.0 billion Term Loan C. The senior notes bear interest at a rate of 7.625% and the principal balance is due in May 2016. The Term Loan C currently bears interest at a rate of 5.25% and was issued at a 1% discount. Principal payments on the Term Loan C began on September 30, 2008. The principal is payable in installments with the final installment due in April 2013.
Venezuela Exchange Controls. We are required to obtain Venezuelan government approval to exchange Venezuelan bolivars fuerte into U.S. dollars at the official rate of 2.15 Venezuelan bolivars fuerte per U.S. dollar. Additionally, a legal parallel exchange process exists, however the rates implied by transactions in the parallel market are significantly higher than the official rate (recently 5 to 7 bolivars fuerte per U.S. dollar). The official approval process has been delayed in recent periods and our Venezuelan subsidiary has in many cases relied on the parallel exchange process to settle U.S. dollar obligations and to repatriate accumulated cash balances. As a result, we recorded a $213 million charge in 2009 and a $29 million charge in 2008 in "General and administrative expenses" in the Consolidated Statements of Operations in connection with the exchange of accumulated Venezuelan cash balances to U.S. dollars using the parallel exchange process. See "Liquidity and Capital Resources" below for additional information and the implications of the devaluation of the Venezuelan currency in January 2010.
Sky Brazil Functional Currency. Based on cumulatively significant changes in economic facts and circumstances, we have determined that the local Brazilian currency should be the functional currency of Sky Brazil for purposes of financial statement translation beginning in the second quarter of 2009. As a result of this change in functional currency, changes in exchange rates result in gain or losses, which we record in "Other, net" in the Consolidated Statements of Operations related to the revaluation of U.S. dollar denominated monetary assets and liabilities, such as cash deposits, notes payable and capital lease obligations held by Sky Brazil. During 2009, we recorded a net foreign currency transaction gain of $62 million in "Other, net" in the Consolidated Statements of Operations related to U.S. dollar denominated monetary assets and liabilities held by Sky Brazil.
Other Than Temporary Impairment. In 2009, we recognized a $45 million charge for the other than temporary impairment of certain of our investments in "Other, net" in the Consolidated Statements of Operations.
Share Repurchase Program. Since 2006 our Board of Directors approved multiple authorizations for the repurchase of our common stock. The following table sets forth information regarding shares repurchased and retired for the years ended December 31:
Revenues. We earn revenues mostly from monthly fees we charge subscribers for subscriptions to basic and premium channel programming, HD programming and access fees, pay-per-view programming, and seasonal and live sporting events. We also earn revenues from monthly fees that we charge subscribers with multiple non-leased set-top receivers (which we refer to as mirroring fees), monthly fees we charge subscribers for leased set-top receivers, monthly fees we charge subscribers for digital video recorder, or DVR, service, hardware revenues from subscribers who lease or purchase set-top receivers from us, our published programming guide, warranty service fees and advertising services.
Broadcast Programming and Other. These costs primarily include license fees for subscription service programming, pay-per-view programming, live sports and other events. Other costs include expenses associated with the publication and distribution of our programming guide, continuing service fees paid to third parties for active subscribers, warranty service costs and production costs for on-air advertisements we sell to third parties.
Subscriber Service Expenses. Subscriber service expenses include the costs of customer call centers, billing, remittance processing and certain home services expenses, such as in-home repair costs.
Broadcast Operations Expenses. These expenses include broadcast center operating costs, signal transmission expenses (including costs of collecting signals for our local channel offerings), and costs of monitoring, maintaining and insuring our satellites. Also included are engineering expenses associated with deterring theft of our signal.
Subscriber Acquisition Costs. These costs include the cost of set-top receivers and other equipment, commissions we pay to national retailers, independent satellite television retailers, dealers, telcos, and the cost of installation, advertising, marketing and customer call center expenses associated with the acquisition of new subscribers. Set-top receivers leased to new subscribers are capitalized in "Property and equipment, net" in the Consolidated Balance Sheets and depreciated over their useful lives. The amount of set-top receivers capitalized each period for subscriber acquisitions is included in "Cash paid for property and equipment" in the Consolidated Statements of Cash Flows.
Upgrade and Retention Costs. Upgrade and retention costs are associated with upgrade efforts for existing subscribers that we believe will result in higher average monthly revenue per subscriber, or ARPU, and lower churn. Our upgrade efforts include subscriber equipment upgrade programs for DVR, HD and HD DVR receivers and local channels, our multiple set-top receiver offer and similar initiatives. Retention costs also include the costs of installing and providing hardware under our movers program for subscribers relocating to a new residence. Set-top receivers leased to existing subscribers under upgrade and retention programs are capitalized in "Property and equipment, net" in the Consolidated Balance Sheets and depreciated over their useful lives. The amount of set-top receivers
capitalized each period for upgrade and retention programs is included in "Cash paid for property and equipment" in the Consolidated Statements of Cash Flows.
General and Administrative Expenses. General and administrative expenses include departmental costs for legal, administrative services, finance, marketing and information technology. These costs also include expenses for bad debt and other operating expenses, such as legal settlements, and gains or losses from the sale or disposal of fixed assets.
Average Monthly Revenue Per Subscriber. We calculate ARPU by dividing average monthly revenues for the period (total revenues during the period divided by the number of months in the period) by average subscribers for the period. We calculate average subscribers for the period by adding the number of subscribers as of the beginning of the period and for each quarter end in the current year or period and dividing by the sum of the number of quarters in the period plus one.
Average Monthly Subscriber Churn. Average monthly subscriber churn represents the number of subscribers whose service is disconnected, expressed as a percentage of the average total number of subscribers. We calculate average monthly subscriber churn by dividing the average monthly number of disconnected subscribers for the period (total subscribers disconnected, net of reconnects, during the period divided by the number of months in the period) by average subscribers for the period.
Subscriber Count. The total number of subscribers represents the total number of subscribers actively subscribing to our service, including seasonal subscribers, subscribers who are in the process of relocating and commercial equivalent viewing units. In March 2008, we implemented a change in DIRECTV U.S.' commercial pricing and packaging to increase our competitiveness. As a result, during the first quarter of 2008, DIRECTV U.S. made a one-time downward adjustment to the subscriber count of approximately 71,000 subscribers related to commercial equivalent viewing units.
SAC. We calculate SAC, which represents total subscriber acquisition costs stated on a per subscriber basis, by dividing total subscriber acquisition costs for the period by the number of gross new subscribers acquired during the period. We calculate total subscriber acquisition costs for the period by adding together "Subscriber acquisition costs" expensed during the period and the amount of cash paid for equipment leased to new subscribers during the period.
EXECUTIVE OVERVIEW AND OUTLOOK
The United States and the other countries in which we operate are continuing to undergo a period of substantial economic uncertainty. As discussed in "Competition" in Item 1, in addition to cable and satellite system operators, we are experiencing increasing competition from telcos and other emerging digital media distribution providers. A more severe downturn in economic activity or further competitive pressures could have a detrimental impact on our forecasted revenue, operating margins, net subscriber additions, free cash flow and net income. Please refer to "Risk Factors" in Item 1A for a further discussion of risks which may affect forecasted results or our business generally.
DIRECTV U.S. Our revenue growth is generated by both increases in the average monthly rates we earn from subscribers, or ARPU, and increases in the total number of subscribers. In 2010, we expect revenue growth in the mid-to-high single digit percentage range. We anticipate higher ARPU growth in 2010, offset by a reduction in revenue growth from net subscriber additions compared to 2009.
In 2010, as a result of the anticipated growth in revenues, the economies of scale in our business, and lower gross subscriber additions, we expect operating profit before depreciation and amortization growth in the low-teens percentage range.
In 2010, we expect capital expenditures to approximate capital expenditures reported for 2009.
DIRECTV Latin America. In 2010, we expect revenue growth of roughly half of the growth experienced in 2009. Although we anticipate net subscriber additions to be similar to 2009, this growth will likely be partially offset by lower ARPU in the region caused by the recently announced devaluation of the Venezuelan currency, discussed in more detail below under "Liquidity and Capital Resources".
As a result of the anticipated growth in revenues and the economies of scale in Latin America, in 2010 we expect operating profit before depreciation and amortization growth of more than 20%.
In 2010, we expect capital expenditures in Latin America to exceed 2009 capital expenditures due to anticipated higher gross subscriber additions and increased sales of advanced products.
DIRECTV. At the consolidated DIRECTV level, we anticipate free cash flow, or cash provided by operating activities less capital expenditures, to grow in the mid-single digit percent range. The improvements in operating profit before depreciation and amortization are expected to be partly offset by an increase in cash paid for income taxes due to the anticipated increase in pre-tax earnings and the cessation of benefits realized during the past two years associated with two Federal economic stimulus programs in the U.S. as well as higher capital expenditures at DIRECTV Latin America and higher expected interest expense.
2010 diluted earnings per common share is expected to more than double compared to 2009. The expected increase in 2010 is due to the anticipated growth in operating profit before depreciation and amortization, lower depreciation and amortization expense, and a continued decline in weighted average common shares outstanding due to anticipated share repurchases.
RESULTS OF OPERATIONS
Year Ended December 31, 2009 Compared with the Year Ended December 31, 2008
Consolidated Results of Operations
We discuss changes for each of our segments in more detail below.
Revenues. The following table presents our revenues by segment:
The increase in our total revenues was due to subscriber growth and higher ARPU at DIRECTV U.S. and DIRECTV Latin America.
Operating profit before depreciation and amortization. The following table presents our operating profit (loss) before depreciation and amortization by segment:
The increase in total operating profit before depreciation and amortization was due to higher gross profit from the increase in revenues, partially offset by higher subscriber acquisition, upgrade and retention and general and administrative costs at both DIRECTV U.S. and DIRECTV Latin America.
Operating profit. The following table presents our operating profit (loss) by segment:
The decrease in our operating profit was primarily due to increased depreciation and amortization from the DIRECTV U.S. and DIRECTV Latin America set-top receiver lease programs, more than offsetting our increase in operating profit before depreciation and amortization.
Interest income. The decrease in interest income to $41 million in 2009 from $81 million in 2008 was due to lower interest rates and lower average cash balances due mostly to the use of cash to fund our share repurchase program.
Interest expense. The increase in interest expense to $423 million in 2009 from $360 million in 2008 was due to an increase in the average debt balance compared to 2008, partially offset by decreased interest rates. We capitalized $18 million of interest costs in both 2008 and 2009.
Liberty transaction and related charges. In 2009 we incurred $491 million in costs related to the Liberty Transaction, which is comprised of a $337 premium paid to LEI shareholders, $111 million in net losses for the partial settlement and fair-value adjustments related to the equity collars and non-employee stock options and stock appreciation rights and $43 million of charges for transaction related costs.
Other, net. The significant components of "Other, net" were as follows:
In 2009, Other, net decreased due primarily to the recognition of a charge for the other than temporary impairment of investments, a loss on the early extinguishment of our 8.375% senior notes and decreased earnings from our unconsolidated subsidiaries, partially offset by a foreign currency transaction gain related to net U.S. dollar denominated liabilities held by Sky Brazil.
Income tax expense. The increase in the effective tax rate to 45% in 2009 from 35% in 2008 is primarily attributable to the non-recoverability of Liberty Transaction related charges.
Income from discontinued operations, net of taxes. During 2008, we recorded a net $6 million adjustment as a result of the expiration of the statute of limitations in the federal jurisdiction offset by the write-off of foreign incentive income tax benefits related to previously divested businesses.
Noncontrolling interests in net earnings of subsidiaries. We recognized noncontrolling interest in net earnings of subsidiaries of $65 million in 2009 and $92 million in 2008 at Sky Brazil. Noncontrolling interest in net earnings of subsidiaries in 2009 decreased due to lower net income at Sky Brazil.
DIRECTV U.S. Segment
The following table provides operating results and a summary of key subscriber data for the DIRECTV U.S. segment:
Subscribers. In 2009, gross subscriber additions increased primarily due to more aggressive promotions, marketing of the AT&T/DIRECTV bundle which began in February 2009, higher demand for advanced services and the impact of the transition to digital programming by broadcasters in the first half of 2009. Net subscriber additions increased from 2008 primarily due to the increase in gross additions, partially offset by higher subscriber disconnections due to a higher average monthly churn rate on a larger subscriber base. Average monthly subscriber churn increased primarily due to stricter upgrade and retention policies for existing customers as well as more aggressive competitor promotions combined with a weaker economy.
Revenues. DIRECTV U.S.' revenues increased as a result of the larger subscriber base and higher ARPU. The increase in ARPU resulted primarily from price increases on programming packages, higher HD and DVR product penetration, partially offset by more competitive customer promotions, the elimination of satellite lease revenue and lower premium movie package buy rates.
Operating profit before depreciation and amortization. The improvement of operating profit before depreciation and amortization was primarily due to the gross profit generated from the higher revenues, partially offset by higher subscriber acquisition costs principally related to the increase in gross subscriber additions.
Broadcast programming and other costs increased due to the larger number of subscribers in 2009 and annual program supplier rate increases. Subscriber service expenses increased primarily due to a larger subscriber base in 2009 and costs associated with service quality improvement initiatives.
Subscriber acquisition costs increased primarily due to an increase in gross subscriber additions compared to 2008 and increased marketing and advertising costs. SAC per subscriber, which includes the cost of capitalized set-top receivers, decreased primarily due to lower set-top receiver costs and greater savings related to the increased usage of refurbished set-top receivers through our lease program.
Upgrade and retention costs increased in 2009 primarily due to the larger subscriber base, partially offset by decreased installation costs and decreased spending on other programs due to stricter spending policies.
General and administrative expenses increased in 2009 primarily due to increased labor and benefit expense from the increase in headcount within our owned and operated home service provider installation business, partially offset by a $14 million charge in 2008 for the write-off of accounts receivable for equipment and other costs incurred to effect the orderly transition of services from one of our home service providers that ceased operations.
Operating profit. The increase in operating profit was primarily due to higher operating profit before depreciation and amortization, partially offset by higher depreciation and amortization expense in 2009 resulting from the capitalization of set-top receivers under the lease program.
DIRECTV Latin America Segment
The following table provides operating results and a summary of key subscriber data for the DIRECTV Latin America segment:
The increase in net subscriber additions was due to strong subscriber demand across the region, particularly in Colombia, Brazil and Puerto Rico, increased demand for DVR, HD and pre-paid services, as well as targeted customer promotions. The decrease in average monthly subscriber churn was primarily due to two downward subscriber adjustments in 2008 totaling 78,000 subscribers. Excluding these subscriber adjustments, churn would have increased 17 basis points principally due to the growth of DTVLA's prepaid business.
Revenues increased in 2009 primarily due to strong subscriber and ARPU growth. ARPU increased mainly due to price increases in Venezuela, Brazil and Argentina, as well as higher fees for HD and DVR services, partially offset by foreign currency devaluations, particularly in Brazil and Argentina.
The higher operating profit before depreciation and amortization is primarily due to the gross profit generated from the higher revenues, partially offset by higher general and administrative expense due primarily to $213 million in currency related transaction fees in Venezuela, an increase in subscriber acquisition costs mostly due to an increase in gross subscriber additions and higher subscriber service costs primarily related to customer service improvement initiatives and the larger subscriber base.
The lower operating profit was primarily due to the increase in operating profit before depreciation and amortization, offset by higher depreciation and amortization expense primarily due to an increase in basic and advance product receivers leased over the last year.
Sports Networks, Eliminations and Other
Operating loss from Sports Networks, Elimination and Other increased to $68 million in 2009 from $61 million in 2008. Sports Networks, Eliminations and Other primarily consisted of corporate operating costs until November 19, 2009 when we completed the Liberty Transaction and acquired the RSNs.
Year Ended December 31, 2008 Compared with the Year Ended December 31, 2007
Consolidated Results of Operations
We discuss changes for each of our segments in more detail below.
Revenues. The following table presents our revenues by segment:
The increase in our total revenues was due to higher ARPU and subscriber growth at DIRECTV U.S. and DIRECTV Latin America.
Operating profit before depreciation and amortization. The following table presents our operating profit (loss) before depreciation and amortization by segment:
The increase in total operating profit before depreciation and amortization was due to higher gross profit from the increase in revenues, partially offset by higher subscriber acquisition, upgrade and retention and general and administrative costs at both DIRECTV U.S. and DIRECTV Latin America.
Operating profit. The following table presents our operating profit (loss) by segment:
The increase in our operating profit was primarily due to increased operating profit before depreciation and amortization, partially offset by the increase in depreciation and amortization expense due to the DIRECTV U.S. lease program.
Interest income. The decrease in interest income to $81 million in 2008 from $111 million in 2007 was due to lower interest rates and lower average cash balances due mostly to the use of cash to fund our share repurchase program.
Interest expense. The increase in interest expense from $235 million in 2007 to $360 million in 2008 was due to an increase in the average debt balance compared to 2007 and lower capitalization of interest cost in 2008. We capitalized $18 million of interest costs in 2008 and $51 million in 2007. The reduction in the capitalization of interest costs was due to the successful completion and launch of two satellites.
Other, net. The significant components of "Other, net" were as follows:
Income tax expense. We recognized income tax expense of $864 million in 2008 compared to $943 million in 2007. The lower income tax expense in 2008 is primarily attributable to foreign earnings taxed at less than our domestic statutory rates, a partial reversal of a valuation allowance on deferred tax assets of foreign subsidiaries as a result of recent profitability and recognition of tax credits due to state tax legislation.
Net Income attributable to noncontrolling interests. We recognized net income attributable to noncontrolling interest in net earnings of subsidiaries of $92 million in 2008 and $11 million in 2007 primarily from Sky Brazil. Net income attributable to noncontrolling interest in 2008 increased due to higher net income and $23 million from the partial reversal of a valuation allowance on deferred tax assets at Sky Brazil attributable to the noncontrolling interest holder.
Income from discontinued operations, net of taxes. During 2008, we recorded a net $6 million adjustment as a result of the expiration of the statute of limitations in the federal jurisdiction offset by the write-off of foreign incentive income tax benefits related to previously divested businesses. During 2007, we recorded a $17 million reduction to our unrecognized tax benefits as a result of a settlement of a foreign withholding dispute from a previously divested business.
DIRECTV U.S. Segment
The following table provides operating results and a summary of key subscriber data for the DIRECTV U.S. segment:
Subscribers. In 2008, gross subscriber additions increased primarily due to growth in the direct sales and retail distribution channels due in large part to more attractive promotions and higher demand for HD and DVR services, partially offset by the loss of a distribution relationship with BellSouth during the last three quarters of 2008. Average monthly subscriber churn decreased primarily due to increased sales of HD and DVR services as well as from lower involuntary churn associated with the continued effect of stringent credit policies. Net subscriber additions declined slightly from 2007 as the increase in gross additions was offset by higher subscriber disconnections.
Revenues. DIRECTV U.S.' revenues increased as a result of higher ARPU and the larger subscriber base. The increase in ARPU resulted primarily from price increases on programming
packages, higher HD and DVR service fees, and an increase in lease fees due to higher average number of receivers per subscriber, partially offset by more competitive customer promotions and slightly lower upfront equipment fees.
Operating profit before depreciation and amortization. The improvement of operating profit before depreciation and amortization was primarily due to the gross profit generated from the higher revenues, partially offset by higher subscriber acquisition, upgrade and retention costs for the increased number of new and existing customers adding HD and DVR services, as well as increased general and administrative costs.
Broadcast programming and other costs increased due to annual program supplier rate increases and the larger number of subscribers in 2008. Subscriber service expenses remained essentially flat with a larger subscriber base in 2008 due to the cost savings from a decline in customer call volume and a lower call handle time. Broadcast operations expense increased in 2008 due primarily to costs to support advanced services, HD enhancements and VOD.
Subscriber acquisition costs increased due to higher sales, marketing and advertising costs and higher costs associated with the acquisition of higher quality and advanced product customers. SAC per subscriber, which includes the cost of capitalized set-top receivers, increased due to higher sales, marketing and advertising costs and higher costs associated with the acquisition of higher quality and advanced product customers, partially offset by lower set-top receiver costs.
Upgrade and retention costs increased in 2008 due to an increase in the movers program and other marketing programs.
General and administrative expenses increased in 2008 primarily due to a $25 million one-time gain recognized in the second quarter of 2007 related to hurricane insurance recoveries, a $14 million charge in 2008 for the write-off of accounts receivable for equipment and other costs incurred to effect the orderly transition of services from one of our home service providers that ceased operations, $24 million in charges associated with the settlement of multiple legal proceedings and an increase in labor and benefit costs.
Operating profit. The increase in operating profit was primarily due to higher operating profit before depreciation and amortization, partially offset by higher depreciation and amortization expense in 2008 resulting from the capitalization of set-top receivers under the lease program.
DIRECTV Latin America Segment
The following table provides operating results and a summary of key subscriber data for the DIRECTV Latin America segment:
The increase in net subscriber additions was due to higher gross subscriber additions mainly in Brazil, Argentina and Venezuela, partially offset by higher churn of 1.78% in the region. The increase in churn was due to two downward subscriber adjustments totaling 78,000 subscribers in Sky Brazil as a result of the inconsistent application of churn policies in previous periods and the completion of the Sky Brazil and DIRECTV Brazil business integration. Excluding these subscriber adjustments in the current year, churn would have been 1.58%, which is higher than the prior year period primarily due to increased competition, higher churn in our prepaid business and a more challenging macroeconomic environment.
Revenues increased in 2008 primarily due to strong subscriber and ARPU growth. ARPU increased mainly due to favorable exchange rates in Brazil in the first three quarters of 2008, as well as strong ARPU growth in PanAmericana, particularly in Venezuela and Argentina.
The higher operating profit before depreciation and amortization is primarily due to the gross profit generated from the higher revenues, partially offset by an increase in subscriber acquisition costs mostly due to the 29% increase in gross additions, higher general and administrative expense due primarily to $29 million in currency related transaction fees in Venezuela and increased costs related to foreign currency exchange rate appreciation.
The higher operating profit was primarily due to the increase in operating profit before depreciation and amortization partially offset by higher depreciation and amortization expense.
Sports Networks, Eliminations and Other
Operating loss from Sports Networks, Eliminations and Other decreased to $61 million in 2008 from $75 million in 2007.
LIQUIDITY AND CAPITAL RESOURCES
Our principal sources of liquidity are our cash, cash equivalents and the cash flow that we generate from our operations. From 2007 to 2009 we experienced significant growth in net cash provided by operating activities and free cash flow. We expect net cash provided by operating activities and free cash flow to continue to grow and believe that our existing cash balances and cash provided by operations will be sufficient to fund our existing business plan. Additionally, as of December 31, 2009, DIRECTV U.S. had the ability to borrow up to $500 million under its existing credit facility, which is available until 2011. Borrowings under this facility may be required to fund strategic investment opportunities should they arise.
At December 31, 2009, our cash and cash equivalents totaled $2.6 billion compared with $2.0 billion at December 31, 2008.
As a measure of liquidity, the current ratio (ratio of current assets to current liabilities) was 0.89 at December 31, 2009 and 1.13 at December 31, 2008. Working capital decreased by $1,105 million to a $646 million deficit at December 31, 2009 from working capital of $459 million at December 31, 2008. The decrease during the period was mostly due to the increase in our current debt balance due to the assumption of debt and the related equity collars as part of the Liberty Transaction.
Summary Cash Flow Information
Cash Flows Provided By Operating Activities
The increases in net cash provided by operating activities in 2009 and 2008 were primarily due to our higher operating profit before depreciation and amortization, which resulted from the higher gross profit generated from an increase in revenues, and in 2009 due to lower payments for income taxes compared to 2008. Cash paid for income taxes was $484 million in 2009, $706 million in 2008 and $408 million in 2007. The decrease in cash paid for income taxes in 2009 resulted mainly from decreased income from continuing operations and prior year tax credits.
Cash Flows Used In Investing Activities
During both 2008 and 2009, we experienced a reduction in set-top receiver costs and benefited from the use of refurbished set-top receivers from the DIRECTV U.S. lease program, which resulted in a reduction in capital expenditures for property and equipment in 2008 and 2009.
Also at DIRECTV U.S., during 2007, 2008 and 2009, we were in the process of constructing three satellites. We have completed and placed two of these satellites into service, which resulted in decreasing satellite capital expenditures over the three year period. We expect to place the last of these
satellites in service in the second quarter of 2010. Additionally, our capital expenditures for broadcast facilities and equipment to support our HD programming has decreased from 2007 to 2009 as we have largely completed the build out of the infrastructure necessary to launch HD programming both locally and nationally.
These decreases in capital expenditures for property and equipment have been offset by an increase in capital expenditures in Latin America for set-top receivers provided to subscribers under lease programs. Part of our business strategy in Latin America is to increase advanced product and multi-box penetrations; therefore, our capital expenditures in Latin America are expected to increase.
Additionally, we paid $37 million in 2009, $204 million in 2008 and $348 million in 2007 for investments, net of cash acquired, in various companies and $97 million, net of cash acquired, as part of the Liberty Transaction. These transactions are described in Notes 3 of the Notes to the Consolidated Financial Statements in Part II, Item 8 of this Annual Report. Also, in 2007 we had cash flows from investing activities resulting from net cash proceeds received from the sale of short-term investments. Our cash spending on investment in companies is discretionary and we may fund strategic investment opportunities should they arise in the future.
Cash Flows Used in Financing Activities
Under stock repurchase plans approved by our Board of Directors we completed the repurchase of our common stock as follows: $1,696 million during 2009, $3,174 million during 2008, and $2,025 million during 2007. In February 2010, we announced an increase in the amount of authorized repurchases to $3.5 billion, which is expected to be completed during 2010. We may make purchases under this program in the open market, through negotiated transactions or otherwise. The timing, nature and amount of such transactions will depend on a variety of factors, including market conditions, and the program may be suspended, discontinued or accelerated at any time. The sources of funds for the purchases under the remaining authorization are our existing cash on hand, cash from operations and potential additional borrowings.
During 2008 we had $2,490 million of net cash proceeds from the issuance of senior notes and borrowings under our senior secured credit facility which were completed in May 2008 and received a $160 million capital contribution in connection with Liberty's acquisition of its equity interest in us from News Corporation. During 2009, we had $1,990 million of net cash proceeds from the issuance of senior notes which were completed in September 2009. We also repaid $1,018 million of our long-term debt, and paid approximately $751 million to settle a portion of the debt and related equity collars assumed as part of the Liberty Transaction.
Free Cash Flow
Free cash flow increased in 2009 as compared to 2008 due to an increase in net cash provided by operating activities described above, and the decrease in capital expenditures and the decrease in cash paid for taxes described above. The decrease in capital expenditures resulted from lower costs for set-top receivers capitalized under the DIRECTV U.S. lease program and lower capital expenditures for satellite and broadcast facilities and equipment to support HD programming partially offset by increased capital expenditures in Latin America for subscriber leased equipment.
During 2010, we expect continued free cash flow growth primarily as a result of the anticipated increase in operating profit before depreciation and amortization.
At December 31, 2009, we had $8,010 million in total outstanding borrowings, bearing a weighted average interest rate of 5.0%. Our outstanding borrowings primarily consist of notes payable, the Collar Loan and amounts borrowed under a senior secured credit facility of DIRECTV U.S. as more fully described in Note 9 of the Notes to the Consolidated Financial Statements in Item 8, Part II of this Annual Report, which we incorporate herein by reference.
During the first quarter of 2010, we paid $1,537 million to repay the remaining principal balance of the Collar Loan and settle the related equity collars, and accordingly will report a gain of approximately $65 million in the first quarter of 2010 related to the Collar Loan.
Our notes payable and senior secured credit facility mature as follows: $308 million in 2010, $108 million in 2011, $20 million in 2012, $1,887 million in 2013, $1,000 million in 2014 and $3,500 million thereafter. These amounts do not reflect potential prepayments that may be required under our senior secured credit facility, which could result from a computation that we are required to make at each year end under the credit agreement. We were not required to make a prepayment for the years ended December 31, 2009 and 2008.
Covenants and Restrictions. The senior secured credit facility requires DIRECTV U.S. to comply with certain financial covenants. The senior notes and the senior secured credit facility also include covenants that restrict DIRECTV U.S.' ability to, among other things, (i) incur additional indebtedness, (ii) incur liens, (iii) pay dividends or make certain other restricted payments, investments or acquisitions, (iv) enter into certain transactions with affiliates, (v) merge or consolidate with another entity, (vi) sell, assign, lease or otherwise dispose of all or substantially all of its assets, and (vii) make voluntary prepayments of certain debt, in each case subject to exceptions as provided in the credit agreement and senior notes indentures. DIRECTV U.S.' 4.750% and 5.875% senior notes are rated as investment grade and have fewer covenants and restrictions than our other senior notes. Should DIRECTV U.S. fail to comply with these covenants, all or a portion of its borrowings under the senior notes and senior secured credit facility could become immediately payable and its revolving credit facility could be terminated. At December 31, 2009, DIRECTV U.S. was in compliance with all such covenants and we expect to continue to be in compliance with all covenants in 2010.
As discussed in Note 19 of the Notes to the Consolidated Financial Statements in Part II, Item 8 of this Annual Report, Globo has the right to exchange Sky Brazil shares for cash or our common shares. If Globo exercises this right, we have the option to elect to pay the consideration in cash, shares of our common stock, or a combination of both.
Venezuela Exchange Controls. Through December 31, 2009 we utilized the official exchange rate of 2.15 bolivars fuerte per U.S. dollar to translate the financial statements of our Venezuelan subsidiary. This rate has been fixed despite significant inflation in Venezuela in recent periods. We are required to obtain Venezuelan government approval to exchange Venezuelan bolivars fuerte into U.S. dollars at the official rate, or alternatively, a legal parallel exchange process exists, however the rates implied by transactions in the parallel market are significantly higher than the official rate (recently 5 to 7 bolivars fuerte per U.S. dollar). The official approval process has been delayed in recent periods and our Venezuelan subsidiary has relied on the parallel exchange process to settle U.S. dollar obligations and to repatriate accumulated cash balances. As a result we recorded a $213 million charge during the year ended December 31, 2009 and a $29 million charge during the year ended December 31, 2008 in "General and administrative expense" in the Consolidated Statements of
Operations in connection with the exchange of accumulated Venezuelan cash balances to U.S. dollars using the parallel exchange process.
In January 2010, the Venezuelan government announced the creation of a dual exchange rate system, including an exchange rate of 4.3 bolivars fuerte per U.S. dollar for most of the activities of our Venezuelan operations. As a result of this devaluation, we estimate an approximate $6 million charge to net income in the first quarter of 2010 related to the adjustment of net bolivars fuerte denominated monetary assets to the new official exchange rate. We will also begin reporting the operating results of our Venezuelan subsidiary in the first quarter of 2010 using the devalued rate, which will result in a 50% reduction in revenues and local currency operating costs. As a result of our policy of repatriating excess cash balances using the parallel exchange rate beginning in 2009, we do not expect a significant reduction in operating profits from our Venezuelan operations in 2010 due to the devaluation of the official exchange rate as the effect of devaluation will be offset by lower charges for the repatriation of cash.
We currently expect to continue to repatriate cash generated in Venezuela in excess of local operating requirements, and to the extent we are unable to obtain timely approval to exchange bolivars fuerte at the official rate, we may use the legal parallel exchange process and we expect to incur additional charges in the future. Using the official exchange rate as of December 31, 2009, our Venezuelan subsidiary had Venezuelan bolivar fuerte denominated assets of $15 million in excess of Venezuelan bolivar fuerte denominated liabilities, including cash of $33 million as of December 31, 2009.
Other. Several factors may affect our ability to fund our operations and commitments that we discuss in "Contractual Obligations", "Off-Balance Sheet Arrangements" and "Contingencies" below. In addition, our future cash flows may be reduced if we experience, among other things, significantly higher subscriber additions than planned, increased subscriber churn or upgrade and retention costs, higher than planned capital expenditures for satellites and broadcast equipment, satellite anomalies or signal theft or if we are required to make a prepayment on our term loans under DIRECTV U.S.' senior secured credit facility. Additionally, DIRECTV U.S.' ability to borrow under the senior secured credit facility is contingent upon DIRECTV U.S. meeting financial and other covenants associated with its facility as more fully described above.
The following table sets forth our contractual obligations as of December 31, 2009, including the future periods in which payments are expected. Additional details regarding these obligations are
provided in the Notes to the Consolidated Financial Statements in Part II, Item 8 referenced in the table.
OFF-BALANCE SHEET ARRANGEMENTS
As of December 31, 2009, we were contingently liable under standby letters of credit and bonds in the aggregate amount of $35 million primarily related to insurance deductibles.
For a discussion of "Contingencies", see Note 19 of the Notes to the Consolidated Financial Statements in Part II, Item 8 of this Annual Report, which we incorporate herein by reference.
CERTAIN RELATIONSHIPS AND RELATED-PARTY TRANSACTIONS
For a discussion of "Certain Relationships and Related-Party Transactions," see Note 17 of the Notes to the Consolidated Financial Statements in Part II, Item 8 of this Annual Report, which we incorporate herein by reference.
CRITICAL ACCOUNTING ESTIMATES
The preparation of the consolidated financial statements in conformity with accounting principles generally accepted in the United States requires management to make estimates, judgments and assumptions that affect amounts reported. Management bases its estimates, judgments and assumptions on historical experience and on various other factors that are believed to be reasonable under the circumstances. Due to the inherent uncertainty involved in making estimates, actual results reported for future periods may be affected by changes in those estimates. The following represents what we believe are the critical accounting policies that may involve a higher degree of estimation, judgment and complexity. For a summary of our significant accounting policies, including those discussed below, see Note 2 of the Notes to the Consolidated Financial Statements in Part II, Item 8 of this Annual Report.
Multi-Year Programming Contracts for Live Sporting Events. We charge the cost of multi-year programming contracts for live sporting events with minimum guarantee payments, such as DIRECTV U.S.' agreement with the NFL, based on the contractual rates in the contract per season, unless the contractual rates are inconsistent with the relative value of the programming from season to season, in which case we record the expense based on the ratio of each period's sports programming package revenues to the estimated total package revenues to be earned over the contract period. Management evaluates estimated total programming package revenues at least annually. Estimates of forecasted revenues rely on assumptions regarding the number of subscribers to a given sporting events package and the estimated package price throughout the contract. While we base our estimates on past experience and other relevant factors, actual results could differ from our estimates. If actual results were to significantly vary from forecasted amounts, the profit recorded on such contracts in a future period could vary from current rates and the resulting change in profits recorded could be material to our consolidated results of operations.
Income Taxes. We must make certain estimates and judgments in determining provisions for income taxes. These estimates and judgments occur in the calculation of tax credits, tax benefits and deductions, and in the calculation of certain tax assets and liabilities, which arise from differences in the timing of recognition of revenue and expense for tax and financial statement purposes.
We assess the recoverability of deferred tax assets at each reporting date and where applicable, record a valuation allowance to reduce the total deferred tax asset to an amount that will, more-likely-than-not, be realized in the future. Our assessment includes an analysis of whether deferred tax assets will be realized in the ordinary course of operations based on the available positive and negative evidence, including the scheduling of deferred tax liabilities and forecasted income from operating activities. The underlying assumptions we use in forecasting future taxable income require significant judgment. In the event that actual income from operating activities differs from forecasted amounts, or if we change our estimates of forecasted income from operating activities, we could record additional charges or reduce allowances in order to adjust the carrying value of deferred tax assets to their realizable amount. Such adjustments could be material to our consolidated financial statements.
In addition, the recognition of a tax benefit for tax positions involves dealing with uncertainties in the application of complex tax regulations. Judgment is required in assessing the future tax consequences of events that have been recognized in our financial statements or tax returns. We provide for taxes for uncertain tax positions where assessments have not been received. We believe such tax reserves are adequate in relation to the potential for additional assessments. Once established, we adjust these amounts only when more information is available or when an event occurs necessitating a change to the reserves. Future events such as changes in the facts or law, judicial decisions regarding the application of existing law or a favorable audit outcome will result in changes to the amounts provided.
Contingent Matters. Determining when, or if, an accrual should be recorded for a contingent matter, including but not limited to legal and tax issues, and the amount of such accrual, if any, requires a significant amount of management judgment and estimation. We develop our judgments and estimates in consultation with outside counsel based on an analysis of potential outcomes. Due to the uncertainty of determining the likelihood of a future event occurring and the potential financial statement impact of such an event, it is possible that upon further development or resolution of a contingent matter, we could record a charge in a future period that would be material to our consolidated financial statements.
Depreciable Lives of Leased Set-Top Receivers. We currently lease most set-top receivers provided to new and existing subscribers and therefore capitalize the cost of those set-top receivers. We depreciate capitalized set-top receivers at DIRECTV U.S. over a three year estimated useful life, which is based on, among other things, management's judgment of the risk of technological obsolescence. Changes in the estimated useful lives of set-top receivers capitalized could result in significant changes to the amounts recorded as depreciation expense. Based on the book value of the DIRECTV U.S. set-top receivers capitalized as of December 31, 2009, if we extended the depreciable life of the set-top receivers by one half of a year, it would result in an approximately $200 million reduction in annual depreciation expense.
Valuation of Long-Lived Assets. We evaluate the carrying value of long-lived assets to be held and used, other than goodwill and intangible assets with indefinite lives, when events and circumstances warrant such a review. We consider the carrying value of a long-lived asset impaired when the anticipated undiscounted future cash flow from such asset is separately identifiable and is less than its carrying value. In that event, we recognize a loss based on the amount by which the carrying value exceeds the fair value of the long-lived asset. We determine fair value primarily using the estimated future cash flows associated with the asset under review, discounted at a rate commensurate with the risk involved, and other valuation techniques. We determine losses on long-lived assets to be disposed of in a similar manner, except that we reduce the fair value for the cost of disposal. Changes in estimates of future cash flows could result in a write-down of the asset in a future period.
Valuation of Goodwill and Intangible Assets with Indefinite Lives. We evaluate the carrying value of goodwill and intangible assets with indefinite lives annually in the fourth quarter or more frequently when events and circumstances change that would more likely than not result in an impairment loss. We completed our annual impairment testing during the fourth quarter of 2009, and determined that there was no impairment of goodwill or intangible assets with indefinite lives. As of December 31, 2009, the fair value of each reporting unit and our intangible assets with indefinite lives significantly exceed their carrying values. See Note 6 of the Notes to the Consolidated Financial Statements in Part II, Item 8 of this Annual Report, which we incorporate herein by reference.
The goodwill evaluation requires the estimation of the fair value of reporting units where we record goodwill. We determine fair values primarily using estimated cash flows discounted at a rate
commensurate with the risk involved, when appropriate. Estimation of future cash flows requires significant judgment about future operating results, and can vary significantly from one evaluation to the next. Risk adjusted discount rates are not fixed and are subject to change over time. As a result, changes in estimated future cash flows and/or changes in discount rates could result in a write-down of goodwill or intangible assets with indefinite lives in a future period which could be material to our consolidated financial statements.
ACCOUNTING CHANGES AND NEW ACCOUNTING PRONOUNCEMENTS
For a discussion of accounting changes and new accounting pronouncements see Note 2 of the Notes to the Consolidated Financial Statements in Part II, Item 8 of this Annual Report, which we incorporate herein by reference.
Debt ratings by the various rating agencies reflect each agency's opinion of the ability of issuers to repay debt obligations as they come due and expected loss given a default. Ratings in the Baa range for Moody's Investors Service, and the BBB range for Standard & Poor's Ratings Services, or S&P, and the BBB range for Fitch Ratings, generally indicate adequate current protection of interest payments and principal security, with certain protective elements lacking. Ratings in the Ba range for Moody's and the BB range for S&P and Fitch, generally indicate moderate protection of interest and principal payments, potentially outweighed by exposure to uncertainties or adverse conditions. In general, lower ratings result in higher borrowing costs. A security rating is not a recommendation to buy, sell, or hold securities and may be subject to revision or withdrawal at any time by the assigning rating organization.
Currently, DIRECTV has the following security rating:
Currently, DIRECTV U.S. has the following security ratings:
ITEM 7A. QUANTITATIVE AND QUALITATIVE DISCLOSURES ABOUT MARKET RISK
The following discussion and the estimated amounts generated from the sensitivity analyses referred to below include forward-looking statements of market risk which assume for analytical purposes that certain adverse market conditions may occur. Actual future market conditions may differ materially from such assumptions and the amounts noted below are the result of analyses used for the purpose of assessing possible risks and the mitigation thereof. Accordingly, you should not consider the forward-looking statements as our projections of future events or losses.
Our cash flows and earnings are subject to fluctuations resulting from changes in foreign currency exchange rates, interest rates and changes in the market value of our equity investments. We manage our exposure to these market risks through internally established policies and procedures and, when deemed appropriate, through the use of derivative financial instruments. We enter into derivative instruments only to the extent considered necessary to meet our risk management objectives, and do not enter into derivative contracts for speculative purposes.
Foreign Currency Risk
We generally conduct our business in U.S. dollars with some business conducted in a variety of foreign currencies and therefore we are exposed to fluctuations in foreign currency exchange rates. Our objective in managing our exposure to foreign currency changes is to reduce earnings and cash flow volatility associated with foreign exchange rate fluctuations. Accordingly, we may enter into foreign exchange contracts to mitigate risks associated with foreign currency denominated assets, liabilities, commitments and anticipated foreign currency transactions. The gains and losses on derivative foreign exchange contracts offset changes in value of the related exposures. As of December 31, 2009, we had no significant foreign currency exchange contracts outstanding. The impact of a hypothetical 10% adverse change in exchange rates on our net assets would be a loss of $109 million, net of taxes, at December 31, 2009, a significant portion of which would be recorded in "Foreign currency translation activity during the period" in our Consolidated Statement of Changes in Stockholders' Equity.
Interest Rate Risk
We are subject to fluctuating interest rates, which may adversely impact our consolidated results of operations and cash flows. We had outstanding debt of $8,010 million at December 31, 2009, which consisted of DIRECTV U.S.' fixed rate borrowings of $4,490 million, collar loan of $1,202 million and variable rate borrowings of $2,316 million. As of December 31, 2009, a hypothetical one percentage point increase in interest rates related to our outstanding variable rate debt would have increased our annual interest expense by approximately $23 million.
ITEM 8. FINANCIAL STATEMENTS AND SUPPLEMENTARY DATA
the Board of Directors and Stockholders of DIRECTV
We have audited the accompanying consolidated balance sheets of DIRECTV (formerly, The DIRECTV Group, Inc.) (the "Company") as of December 31, 2009 and 2008, and the related consolidated statements of operations, changes in stockholders' equity, comprehensive income, and cash flows for each of the three years in the period ended December 31, 2009. Our audits also included the financial statement schedules listed in the Index at Item 15. These financial statements and financial statement schedules are the responsibility of the Company's management. Our responsibility is to express an opinion on the financial statements and financial statement schedules based on our audits.
We conducted our audits in accordance with the standards of the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board (United States). Those standards require that we plan and perform the audit to obtain reasonable assurance about whether the financial statements are free of material misstatement. An audit includes examining, on a test basis, evidence supporting the amounts and disclosures in the financial statements. An audit also includes assessing the accounting principles used and significant estimates made by management, as well as evaluating the overall financial statement presentation. We believe that our audits provide a reasonable basis for our opinion.
In our opinion, such consolidated financial statements present fairly, in all material respects, the financial position of DIRECTV at December 31, 2009 and 2008, and the results of its operations and its cash flows for each of the three years in the period ended December 31, 2009, in conformity with accounting principles generally accepted in the United States of America. Also, in our opinion, such financial statement schedules, when considered in relation to the basic consolidated financial statements taken as a whole, present fairly, in all material respects, the information set forth therein.
As discussed in Note 2 of the Notes to the Consolidated Financial Statements, effective January 1, 2009, the Company adopted new accounting standards for the accounting and reporting of noncontrolling interests in subsidiaries, also known as minority interests and effective January 1, 2009, the Company adopted new accounting standards regarding the financial statement classification and measurement of equity securities that are subject to mandatory redemption requirements or whose redemption is out of the control of the issuer.
We have also audited, in accordance with the standards of the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board (United States), the Company's internal control over financial reporting as of December 31, 2009, based on the criteria established in Internal ControlIntegrated Framework issued by the Committee of Sponsoring Organizations of the Treadway Commission and our report dated February 25, 2010 expressed an unqualified opinion on the Company's internal control over financial reporting.
The accompanying notes are an integral part of these Consolidated Financial Statements.