Annual report pursuant to Section 13 and 15(d)

Summary of Significant Accounting Policies

Summary of Significant Accounting Policies
12 Months Ended
Dec. 31, 2014
Summary of Significant Accounting Policies [Abstract]  
Significant Accounting Policies [Text Block]

(2)Summary of Significant Accounting Policies


Cash and Cash Equivalents


Cash equivalents consist of investments which are readily convertible into cash and have maturities of three months or less at the time of acquisition.




Receivables are reflected net of an allowance for doubtful accounts and sales returns. Such allowance aggregated $8 million and $4 million at December 31, 2014 and 2013, respectively. Activity in the year ended December 31, 2014 included an increase of $45 million of bad debt charged to expense and $41 million of write-offs. Activity in the year ended December 31, 2013 included an increase of $4 million of bad debt charged to expense and $1 million of write-offs. The amounts charged to bad debt expense and write-offs were less than a million in 2012.




All marketable equity and debt securities held by the Company are classified as available-for-sale ("AFS") and are carried at fair value generally based on quoted market prices. U.S. generally accepted accounting principles ("GAAP") permit entities to choose to measure many financial instruments, such as AFS securities, and certain other items at fair value and to recognize the changes in fair value of such instruments in the entity's statement of operations (the "fair value option").  Under other relevant GAAP, entities were required to recognize changes in fair value of AFS securities in the balance sheet in accumulated other comprehensive earnings. Liberty has entered into economic hedges for certain of its non-strategic AFS securities (although such instruments are not accounted for as fair value hedges by the Company). Changes in the fair value of these economic hedges are reflected in Liberty's statement of operations as unrealized gains (losses). In order to better match the changes in fair value of the subject AFS securities and the changes in fair value of the corresponding economic hedges in the Company's financial statements, Liberty has elected the fair value option for those of its AFS securities which it considers to be non-strategic ("Fair Value Option Securities"). Accordingly, changes in the fair value of Fair Value Option Securities, as determined by quoted market prices, are reported in realized and unrealized gain (losses) on financial instruments in the accompanying consolidated statements of operations. The total value of AFS securities for which the Company has elected the fair value option aggregated $745 million and $1,253 million as of December 31, 2014 and 2013, respectively.


Other investments in which the Company's ownership interest is less than 20% and are not considered marketable securities are carried at cost.

For those investments in affiliates in which the Company has the ability to exercise significant influence, the equity method of accounting is used. Under this method, the investment, originally recorded at cost, is adjusted to recognize the Company's share of net earnings or losses of the affiliate as they occur rather than as dividends or other distributions are received. Losses are limited to the extent of the Company's investment in, advances to and commitments for the investee. In the event the Company is unable to obtain accurate financial information from an equity affiliate in a timely manner, the Company records its share of earnings or losses of such affiliate on a lag.


Changes in the Company's proportionate share of the underlying equity of an equity method investee, which result from the issuance of additional equity securities by such equity investee, are recognized in the statement of operations through the other, net line item.  To the extent there is a difference between our ownership percentage in the underlying equity of an equity method investee and our carrying value, such difference is accounted for as if the equity method investee were a consolidated subsidiary.


The Company continually reviews its equity investments and its AFS securities which are not Fair Value Securities to determine whether a decline in fair value below the cost basis is other than temporary. The primary factors the Company considers in its determination are the length of time that the fair value of the investment is below the Company's carrying value; the severity of the decline; and the financial condition, operating performance and near term prospects of the investee. In addition, the Company considers the reason for the decline in fair value, be it general market conditions, industry specific or investee specific; analysts' ratings and estimates of 12 month share price targets for the investee; changes in stock price or valuation subsequent to the balance sheet date; and the Company's intent and ability to hold the investment for a period of time sufficient to allow for a recovery in fair value. If the decline in fair value is deemed to be other than temporary, the cost basis of the security is written down to fair value. In situations where the fair value of an investment is not evident due to a lack of a public market price or other factors, the Company uses its best estimates and assumptions to arrive at the estimated fair value of such investment. The Company's assessment of the foregoing factors involves a high degree of judgment and accordingly, actual results may differ materially from the Company's estimates and judgments. Writedowns for AFS securities which are not Fair Value Option Securities are included in the consolidated statements of operations as other than temporary declines in fair values of investments. Writedowns for equity method investments are included in share of earnings (losses) of affiliates.


Derivative Instruments and Hedging Activities


All of the Company's derivatives, whether designated in hedging relationships or not, are recorded on the balance sheet at fair value.  If the derivative is designated as a fair value hedge, the changes in the fair value of the derivative and of the hedged item attributable to the hedged risk are recognized in earnings.  If the derivative is designated as a cash flow hedge, the effective portions of changes in the fair value of the derivative are recorded in other comprehensive earnings and are recognized in the statement of operations when the hedged item affects earnings.  Ineffective portions of changes in the fair value of cash flow hedges are recognized in earnings.  If the derivative is not designated as a hedge, changes in the fair value of the derivative are recognized in earnings. None of the Company's derivatives are currently designated as hedges.


The fair value of certain of the Company's derivative instruments are estimated using the Black-Scholes model.  The Black-Scholes model incorporates a number of variables in determining such fair values, including expected volatility of the underlying security and an appropriate discount rate.  The Company obtained volatility rates from pricing services based on the expected volatility of the underlying security over the remaining term of the derivative instrument.  A discount rate was obtained at the inception of the derivative instrument and updated each reporting period, based on the Company's estimate of the discount rate at which it could currently settle the derivative instrument.  The Company considered its own credit risk as well as the credit risk of its counterparties in estimating the discount rate.  Considerable management judgment was required in estimating the Black-Scholes variables.


Property and Equipment


Property and equipment consisted of the following:














Estimated Useful Life


December 31, 2014


December 31, 2013






amounts in millions











Buildings and improvements


10 - 40 years







Support equipment


3 - 20 years







Satellite system


2 - 15 years







Construction in progress









Total property and equipment










Property and equipment, including significant improvements, is stated at cost. Depreciation is computed using the straight-line method using estimated useful lives.  Depreciation expense for the years ended December 31, 2014, 2013 and 2012 was $209 million, $200 million and $23 million, respectively.  During the year ended December 31, 2013, SIRIUS XM capitalized expenditures, including interest, of approximately $87 million related to the construction of one of its satellites, which was launched and placed into operation in the fourth quarter of 2013.


Intangible Assets


Intangible assets with estimable useful lives are amortized over their respective estimated useful lives to their estimated residual values, and reviewed for impairment upon certain triggering events.  Goodwill and other intangible assets with indefinite useful lives (collectively, "indefinite lived intangible assets") are not amortized, but instead are tested for impairment at least annually.  Our annual impairment assessment of our indefinite-lived intangible assets is performed during the fourth quarter of each year.


The Company utilizes a qualitative assessment for determining whether step one of the goodwill impairment analysis is necessary. The accounting guidance permits entities to first assess qualitative factors to determine whether it is more likely than not that the fair value of a reporting unit is less than its carrying amount as a basis for determining whether it is necessary to perform the two-step goodwill impairment test. In evaluating goodwill on a qualitative basis the Company reviews the business performance of each reporting unit and evaluates other relevant factors as identified in the relevant accounting guidance to determine whether it is more likely than not that an indicated impairment exists for any of our reporting units.  The Company considers whether there are any negative macroeconomic conditions, industry specific conditions, market changes, increased competition, increased costs in doing business, management challenges, the legal environments and how these factors might impact company specific performance in future periods. As part of the analysis, the Company also considers fair value determinations for certain reporting units that have been made at various points throughout the current and prior years for other purposes.


If a step one test is considered necessary based on the qualitative factors, the Company compares the estimated fair value of a reporting unit to its carrying value. Developing estimates of fair value requires significant judgments, including making assumptions about appropriate discount rates, perpetual growth rates, relevant comparable market multiples, public trading prices and the amount and timing of expected future cash flows. The cash flows employed in Liberty's valuation analysis are based on management's best estimates considering current marketplace factors and risks as well as assumptions of growth rates in future years. There is no assurance that actual results in the future will approximate these forecasts. For those reporting units whose carrying value exceeds the fair value, a second test is required to measure the impairment loss (the "Step 2 Test"). In the Step 2 Test, the fair value of the reporting unit is allocated to all of the assets and liabilities of the reporting unit with any residual value being allocated to goodwill. The difference between such allocated amount and the carrying value of the goodwill is recorded as an impairment charge.


The accounting guidance also permits entities to first perform a qualitative assessment to determine whether it is more likely than not that an indefinite-lived intangible asset is impaired. If the qualitative assessment supports that it is more likely than not that the carrying value of the Company’s indefinite-lived intangible assets, other than goodwill, exceeds its fair value, then a quantitative assessment is performed. If the carrying value of an indefinite-lived intangible asset exceeds its fair value, an impairment loss is recognized in an amount equal to that excess.


Impairment of Long-lived Assets


The Company periodically reviews the carrying amounts of its property and equipment and its intangible assets (other than goodwill and indefinite-lived intangibles) to determine whether current events or circumstances indicate that such carrying amounts may not be recoverable. If the carrying amount of the asset group is greater than the expected undiscounted cash flows to be generated by such asset group, an impairment adjustment is to be recognized. Such adjustment is measured by the amount that the carrying value of such asset groups exceeds their fair value. The Company generally measures fair value by considering sale prices for similar assets or by discounting estimated future cash flows using an appropriate discount rate. Considerable management judgment is necessary to estimate the fair value of asset groups. Accordingly, actual results could vary significantly from such estimates. Asset groups to be disposed of are carried at the lower of their financial statement carrying amount or fair value less costs to sell.


Noncontrolling Interests


The Company reports noncontrolling interests of subsidiaries within equity in the balance sheet and the amount of consolidated net income attributable to the parent and to the noncontrolling interest is presented in the statement of operations. Also, changes in ownership interests in subsidiaries in which the Company maintains a controlling interest are recorded in equity.


Revenue Recognition


Revenue is recognized as follows:



Revenue from SIRIUS XM subscribers is recognized as it is realized or realizable and earned. Subscription fees are recognized as SIRIUS XM’s services are provided. Prepaid subscription fees received from certain automakers are recorded as deferred revenue and amortized to revenue ratably over the service period which commences upon retail sale and activation.


SIRIUS XM recognizes revenue from the sale of advertising as the advertising is broadcast. Agency fees are calculated based on a stated percentage applied to gross billing revenue for advertising inventory and are reported as a reduction of advertising revenue. Advertising revenue is recorded gross of revenue share payments made to certain third parties, which are recorded to Revenue share and royalties during the period in which the advertising is broadcast.


Equipment revenue and royalties from the sale of satellite radios, components and accessories are recognized upon shipment, net of discounts and rebates. Shipping and handling costs billed to customers are recorded as revenue. Shipping and handling costs associated with shipping goods to customers are reported as a component of Cost of subscriber services.


Certain revenue arrangements contain multiple products, services and right to use assets, such as SIRIUS XM's bundled subscription plans. The applicable accounting guidance requires that such multiple deliverable revenue arrangements be divided into separate units of accounting if the deliverables in the arrangement meet certain criteria. Consideration is allocated at the inception of the arrangement to all deliverables based on their relative selling price, which is determined using vendor specific objective evidence of the selling price of self-pay customers.


SIRIUS XM also earns revenue from U.S. Music Royalty Fees, which are recorded as revenue and as a component of Revenue share and royalties expense. Fees received from subscribers for the U.S. Music Royalty Fee are recorded as deferred revenue and amortized to revenue ratably over the service period which coincides with the recognition of the subscriber's subscription revenue.


SIRIUS XM revenue is reported net of any taxes assessed by a governmental authority that is both imposed on, and concurrent with, a specific revenue-producing transaction between a seller and a customer in the consolidated statements of operations.


Revenue for ticket sales, local radio and television rights, signage and suites are recognized on a per game basis during the baseball season based on a pro rata share of total revenue earned during the entire baseball season to the total number of home games during the season. Concession revenue is recognized as commissions are earned from the sale of food and beverage at the stadium in accordance with agreements with the Company's concessions vendors. Major League Baseball (MLB) revenue is earned throughout the year based on an estimate of revenue generated by MLB on behalf of the 30 MLB clubs through the MLB Central Fund and MLB Properties and revenue sharing income or expense.


In May 2014, the FASB issued new accounting guidance on revenue from contracts with customers. The new guidance requires an entity to recognize the amount of revenue to which it expects to be entitled for the transfer of promised goods or services to customers. The updated guidance will replace most existing revenue recognition guidance in GAAP when it becomes effective and permits the use of either a retrospective or cumulative effect transition method. This guidance is effective for fiscal years, and interim periods within those fiscal years, beginning after December 15, 2016. The Company is currently evaluating the effect that the new standard may have on its revenue recognition and has not yet selected a transition method but does not believe the standard will significantly impact its financial statements and related disclosures.


Cost of Subscriber Services


Revenue Share


SIRIUS XM shares a portion of its subscription revenues earned from subscribers with certain automakers. The terms of the revenue share agreements vary with each automaker, but are typically based upon the earned audio revenue as reported or gross billed audio revenue. Such shared revenue is recorded as an expense and not as a reduction to revenue.


Programming Costs


Programming costs which are for a specified number of events are amortized on an event-by-event basis; programming costs which are for a specified season or period are amortized over the season or period on a straight-line basis. SIRIUS XM allocates a portion of certain programming costs which are related to sponsorship and marketing activities to Selling, general and administrative expense on a straight-line basis over the term of the agreement.


Subscriber Acquisition Costs


Subscriber acquisition costs consist of costs incurred to acquire new subscribers and include hardware subsidies paid to radio manufacturers, distributors and automakers, including subsidies paid to automakers who include a satellite radio and a prepaid subscription to SIRIUS XM service in the sale or lease price of a new vehicle; subsidies paid for chip sets and certain other components used in manufacturing radios; device royalties for certain radios and chipsets; commissions paid to retailers and automakers as incentives to purchase, install and activate radios; product warranty obligations; freight; and provisions for inventory allowance attributable to inventory consumed in SIRIUS XM’s automaker and retail distribution channels. Subscriber acquisition costs do not include advertising costs, loyalty payments to distributors and dealers of radios and revenue share payments to automakers and retailers of radios.


Subsidies paid to radio manufacturers and automakers are expensed upon installation, shipment, receipt of product or activation and are included in Subscriber acquisition costs because SIRIUS XM is responsible for providing the service to the customers. Commissions paid to retailers and automakers are expensed upon either the sale or activation of radios. Chipsets that are shipped to radio manufacturers and held on consignment are recorded as inventory and expensed as subscriber acquisition costs when placed into production by radio manufacturers. Costs for chip sets not held on consignment are expensed as subscriber acquisition costs when the automaker confirms receipt.


Advertising Costs


Advertising expense aggregated $226 million, $181 million and $4 million for the years ended December 31, 2014, 2013 and 2012, respectively. Advertising costs are primarily attributable to costs incurred by SIRIUS XM. Media-related advertising costs are expensed when advertisements air, and advertising production costs are expensed as incurred.  These costs are reflected in the Selling, general and administrative expenses line in our consolidated statements of operations.


Stock-Based Compensation


As more fully described in note 14, Liberty has granted to its directors, employees and employees of its subsidiaries options, restricted stock and stock appreciation rights ("SARs") to purchase shares of Liberty common stock (collectively, "Awards"). The Company measures the cost of employee services received in exchange for an Award of equity instruments (such as stock options and restricted stock) based on the grant-date fair value of the Award, and recognizes that cost over the period during which the employee is required to provide service (usually the vesting period of the Award). The Company measures the cost of employee services received in exchange for an Award of liability instruments (such as stock appreciation rights that will be settled in cash) based on the current fair value of the Award, and remeasures the fair value of the Award at each reporting date.


Included in the accompanying consolidated statements of operations are the following amounts of stock-based compensation, a portion of which relates to SIRIUS XM as discussed in note 14:













Years ended December 31,












amounts in millions


Cost of subscriber services:









Programming and content








Customer service and billing












Other operating expense








Selling, general and administrative



















Income Taxes


The Company accounts for income taxes using the asset and liability method. Deferred tax assets and liabilities are recognized for the future tax consequences attributable to differences between the financial statement carrying value amounts and income tax bases of assets and liabilities and the expected benefits of utilizing net operating loss and tax credit carryforwards. The deferred tax assets and liabilities are calculated using enacted tax rates in effect for each taxing jurisdiction in which the company operates for the year in which those temporary differences are expected to be recovered or settled. Net deferred tax assets are then reduced by a valuation allowance if the Company believes it more likely than not such net deferred tax assets will not be realized. The effect on deferred tax assets and liabilities of an enacted change in tax rates is recognized in income in the period that includes the enactment date.


When the tax law requires interest to be paid on an underpayment of income taxes, the Company recognizes interest expense from the first period the interest would begin accruing according to the relevant tax law. Such interest expense is included in interest expense in the accompanying consolidated statements of operations. Any accrual of penalties related to underpayment of income taxes on uncertain tax positions is included in other income (expense) in the accompanying consolidated statements of operations.


Earnings attributable to Liberty Stockholders Per Common Share


Net earnings attributable to Liberty stockholders is comprised of the following:














Years ended December 31,












amounts in millions


Earnings (loss) from continuing operations









Earnings (loss) from discontinued operations








Basic earnings (loss) per common share ("EPS") is computed by dividing net earnings (loss) by the weighted average number of common shares that were outstanding for the period at the Company. Diluted EPS presents the dilutive effect on a per share basis of potential common shares as if they had been converted at the beginning of the periods presented.


Series A, Series B and Series C Liberty Common Stock


The basic and diluted EPS calculation is based on the following weighted average shares outstanding (WASO) of Liberty's common stock. As discussed in note 1, on July 23, 2014 the Company completed a stock dividend of two shares of Series C common stock for every share of Series A or Series B common stock held as of the record date.  Therefore, all prior period outstanding share amounts for purposes of the calculation of EPS have been retroactively adjusted for comparability. Excluded from diluted EPS for the years ended December 31, 2014, 2013 and 2012 are 21 million, 17 million and less than a million potential common shares, respectively, due to warrants issued in connection with the Bond Hedge transaction (see note 10) because their inclusion would be anti-dilutive.













Years ended December 31,












number of shares in millions


Basic WASO








Potentially dilutive shares






Diluted WASO









Reclasses and adjustments


Certain prior period amounts have been reclassified for comparability with the current year presentation.




The preparation of financial statements in conformity with GAAP requires management to make estimates and assumptions that affect the reported amounts of assets and liabilities at the date of the financial statements and the reported amounts of revenue and expenses during the reporting period. Actual results could differ from those estimates. The Company considers (i) recurring and nonrecurring fair value measurements, (ii) accounting for income taxes, (iii) assessments of other-than-temporary declines in fair value of its investments and (iv) determination of the useful life of SIRIUS XM’s broadcast/transmission system to be its most significant estimates.


The Company holds investments that are accounted for using the equity method. The Company does not control the decision making process or business management practices of these affiliates. Accordingly, the Company relies on management of these affiliates to provide it with accurate financial information prepared in accordance with GAAP that the Company uses in the application of the equity method. In addition, the Company relies on audit reports that are provided by the affiliates' independent auditors on the financial statements of such affiliates. The Company is not aware, however, of any errors in or possible misstatements of the financial information provided by its equity affiliates that would have a material effect on the Company's consolidated financial statements.