COMMITMENTS AND CONTINGENT LIABILITIES
|3 Months Ended|
Mar. 31, 2012
|COMMITMENTS AND CONTINGENT LIABILITIES [Abstract]|
|COMMITMENTS AND CONTINGENT LIABILITIES||
NOTE 5-COMMITMENTS AND CONTINGENT LIABILITIES
The Company has leases that contain contingent payment requirements for which payments vary depending on revenue, tickets sold or other variables.
Certain agreements relating to acquisitions that occurred prior to the adoption in January 2009 of the new FASB guidance for business combinations provide for purchase price adjustments and other future contingent payments based on the financial performance of the acquired companies. The Company will accrue additional amounts related to such contingent payments, which were part of the business combinations, with a corresponding adjustment to goodwill, if and when it is determinable that the applicable financial performance targets will be met. The aggregate of these contingent payments, if all performance targets are met, would not significantly impact the financial position of the Company. The last contingency period for which the Company has an outstanding contingent earn-out payment is for the period ending December 2017.
The Company also has certain contingent obligations related to acquisitions made after the adoption in January 2009 of the FASB guidance for business combinations. In accordance with the current guidance, contingent consideration associated with business combinations must be recorded at its fair value at the time of the acquisition and reflected at current fair value for each subsequent reporting period thereafter until settled. The Company records these fair value changes in its statements of operations as acquisition transaction expenses. The contingent consideration is generally subject to payout following the achievement of future performance targets and some may be payable in 2012. As of March 31, 2012, the Company has accrued $0.7 million in other current liabilities and $7.1 million in other long-term liabilities and, as of December 31, 2011, the Company had accrued $1.5 million in other current liabilities and $6.9 million in other long-term liabilities representing the fair value of these estimated earn-out arrangements. The last contingency period for which the Company has an outstanding contingent earn-out payment is for the period ending December 2017. See Note 4-Fair Value Measurements for further discussion related to the valuation of the earn-out payments.
In addition, the Company has certain contingent obligations related to acquisitions where the Company does not consolidate the entity, rather accounts for the investee under the equity method of accounting. If, at acquisition, the fair value of the Company's share of net assets exceeds the Company's initial cost, the maximum amount of contingent consideration that could be paid is recorded up to that excess amount. When the contingency is resolved, any difference between the amount recorded and the settlement is recorded as an adjustment to the investment account. The aggregate of contingent payments associated with equity method investments, if all performance targets are met, would not significantly impact the financial position of the Company. As of March 31, 2012 and December 31, 2011 the Company has accrued $3.9 million in other long-term liabilities for each respective period.
Certain agreements relating to acquisitions provide for deferred purchase consideration payments at future dates. A liability is established at the time of the acquisition for these fixed payments. For obligations payable at a date greater than twelve months from the acquisition date, the Company applies a discount rate to present value the obligations. As of December 31, 2011, the Company had accrued $7.1 million in other current liabilities and $2.6 million in other long-term liabilities related to these deferred purchase consideration payments. During the first quarter of 2012, the Company paid the balance of the deferred purchase consideration in full.
Live Nation Worldwide, Inc. ("Live Nation Worldwide"), and CTS were parties to an agreement (the "CTS Agreement"), pursuant to which CTS was to develop and Live Nation Worldwide licensed or agreed to use ticketing software or ticketing platforms. Under the agreement, CTS was to develop software to be licensed to Live Nation Worldwide to provide ticketing services in the United States and Canada. The CTS Agreement also generally required Live Nation Worldwide to use CTS's ticketing platforms in certain European countries so long as CTS's existing platforms were appropriately modified to meet local market conditions. In June 2010, Live Nation Worldwide terminated the CTS Agreement because CTS materially breached the agreement by failing to deliver a North American ticketing system that met the contractual requirements of being a "world class ticketing system . . . that fits the needs of the North American market," and by failing to deliver a ticketing system for the United Kingdom and other European countries that fit the needs of those markets as required by the CTS Agreement.
For North America, had CTS performed on the CTS Agreement, it would have been generally entitled to receive, during the then 10-year term of the CTS Agreement, a per ticket license fee upon the sale of certain tickets that Live Nation Worldwide or any of certain of its subsidiaries (collectively, the "Live Nation Worldwide entities") controlled and had the right to distribute by virtue of certain promotion and venue management relations. This per ticket fee for events in North America was payable to CTS regardless of whether the Live Nation Worldwide entities chose to use the CTS ticketing platform, Ticketmaster's ticketing platform or another ticketing platform for the sale of such controlled tickets. For events in certain European countries, not including the United Kingdom, Live Nation Worldwide generally was required, during a 10-year term, to exclusively book on the CTS ticketing platform all tickets that the Live Nation Worldwide entities had the right to distribute (or, to the extent other ticketing platforms were used, Live Nation Worldwide was generally required to pay to CTS the same fee that would have been payable had the CTS platform been used). For events in the United Kingdom, Live Nation Worldwide was required, for a 10-year term, to (i) book on the CTS ticketing platform all tickets controlled by Live Nation Worldwide entities that are not allocated by Live Nation Worldwide for sale through other sales channels and (ii) to offer for sale on the CTS UK website a portion of the tickets controlled by the Live Nation Worldwide entities. Finally, the CTS Agreement obligated Live Nation Worldwide and CTS to negotiate a set of noncompete agreements that, subject to legal restrictions, could have precluded Live Nation Worldwide from offering primary market ticketing services to third parties in certain European countries during the term of the CTS Agreement.
In April 2010, CTS filed a request for arbitration with the International Court of Arbitration of the International Chamber of Commerce ("ICC"), pursuant to the CTS Agreement. In its request for arbitration, CTS asserts, among other things, that (i) the terms of the CTS Agreement, including the North America per ticket license fee, European exclusivity obligations and United Kingdom distribution obligations described above, apply to tickets sold and distributed by Ticketmaster, (ii) Ticketmaster's sales and distribution of tickets following the completion of the Merger have resulted in various breaches of Live Nation Worldwide's obligations under the CTS Agreement, (iii) Live Nation has failed to allocate the proper number of tickets to CTS's system in the United Kingdom and (iv) the Merger and the Company's subsequent actions have breached the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing. In its request for arbitration, CTS seeks relief in the form of a declaration that Live Nation and Live Nation Worldwide are in breach of the CTS Agreement and the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing, specific performance of Live Nation Worldwide's obligations under the CTS Agreement, and unspecified damages resulting from such breaches. In March 2011, CTS provided further specifications on its claims and purported damages, including a claim for royalties that would have been paid over the contemplated 10-year term of the CTS Agreement and on Ticketmaster-controlled tickets (as well as tickets controlled by Live Nation Worldwide or any of certain of its subsidiaries).
In May 2010, the Company responded to CTS's request for arbitration and filed counterclaims asserting that CTS breached the CTS Agreement by failing to provide ticketing platforms that met the standard required by the CTS Agreement for the North American and European markets. The Company is seeking relief primarily in the form of damages and a declaration that the Company validly terminated the CTS Agreement based on CTS's material breaches. The Company denies that CTS is entitled to collect damages for royalties that would have been paid over the full 10-year term of the CTS Agreement or on Ticketmaster-controlled tickets. The matter has been assigned to an arbitrator, and hearings were conducted in the summer and fall of 2011. A decision from the arbitrator is currently expected during the summer of 2012. While the Company does not believe that a loss is probable of occurring at this time, if the arbitrator rules against us on any or all claims, the amounts at stake could be substantial. Considerable uncertainty remains regarding the validity of the claims and damages asserted against the Company. As a result, the Company is currently unable to estimate the possible loss or range of loss for this matter. The Company intends to continue to vigorously defend the action.
Live Concert Antitrust Litigation
The Company was a defendant in a lawsuit filed by Malinda Heerwagen in June 2002 in the United States District Court. The plaintiff, on behalf of a putative class consisting of certain concert ticket purchasers, alleged that anti-competitive practices for concert promotion services by the Company nationwide caused artificially high ticket prices. In August 2003, the District Court ruled in the Company's favor, denying the plaintiff's class certification motion. The plaintiff appealed to the United States Court of Appeals. In January 2006, the Court of Appeals affirmed, and the plaintiff then dismissed her action that same month. Subsequently, twenty-two putative class actions were filed by different named plaintiffs in various United States District Courts throughout the country, making claims substantially similar to those made in the Heerwagen action, except that the geographic markets alleged are regional, statewide or more local in nature, and the members of the putative classes are limited to individuals who purchased tickets to concerts in the relevant geographic markets alleged. The plaintiffs seek unspecified compensatory, punitive and treble damages, declaratory and injunctive relief and costs of suit, including attorneys' fees. The Company has filed its answers in some of these actions and has denied liability. In April 2006, granting the Company's motion, the Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation transferred these actions to the United States District Court for the Central District of California for coordinated pre-trial proceedings. In June 2007, the District Court conducted a hearing on the plaintiffs' motion for class certification, and also that month the Court entered an order to stay all proceedings pending the Court's ruling on class certification. In October 2007, the Court granted the plaintiffs' motion and certified classes in the Chicago, New England, New York/New Jersey, Colorado and Southern California regional markets. In November 2007, the Court extended its stay of all proceedings pending further developments in the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. In February 2008, the Company filed with the District Court a Motion for Reconsideration of its October 2007 class certification order. In October 2010, the District Court denied the Company's Motion for Reconsideration and lifted the stay of all proceedings. In February 2011, the Company filed with the District Court a Motion for Partial Summary Judgment Regarding Statute of Limitations. In April 2011, the District Court granted the Company's Motion for Partial Summary Judgment. In November 2011, the Company filed with the District Court its Motion for Class Decertification, Motion to Exclude Testimony of the plaintiffs' expert witness, and Motions for Summary Judgment in the actions pertaining to the Colorado and Southern California regional markets.
In March 2012, the District Court issued an Order (the "Colorado/Southern California Order") granting the Company's Motions for Summary Judgment and also granting in part its Motion to Exclude Testimony. The trial for the action involving the Southern California regional market that had been scheduled to commence in April 2012 has been taken off the calendar. On April 26, 2012, the District Court denied the plaintiffs' request for a stay of proceedings pending their appeal of the Colorado/Southern California Order, and instead ordered the Company to file, by May 29, 2012, its Motions for Summary Judgment in the other twenty actions. A hearing is set for July 2, 2012. While the Colorado/Southern California Order related specifically to the cases in those two markets, the Company believes that the decisions and results reflected therein should ultimately be applied to the remaining twenty actions. As a result, the Company does not believe that a loss is probable of occurring at this time; however, if any or all of the remaining cases proceed to trial and plaintiffs are awarded damages, the amount of any such award could be substantial. Considerable uncertainty remains regarding the validity of the claims and damages asserted against it, particularly in light of the decisions reflected in the Colorado/Southern California Order. As a result, the Company is currently unable to estimate the possible loss or range of loss for this matter. The Company intends to continue to vigorously defend all claims in all of the remaining actions.
Ticketing Fees Consumer Class Action Litigation
In October 2003, a putative representative action was filed in the Superior Court of California challenging Ticketmaster's charges to online customers for shipping fees and alleging that its failure to disclose on its website that the charges contain a profit component is unlawful. The complaint asserted a claim for violation of California's Unfair Competition Law ("UCL"), and sought restitution or disgorgement of the difference between (i) the total shipping fees charged by Ticketmaster in connection with online ticket sales during the applicable period, and (ii) the amount that Ticketmaster actually paid to the shipper for delivery of those tickets. In August 2005, the plaintiffs filed a first amended complaint, then pleading the case as a putative class action and adding the claim that Ticketmaster's website disclosures in respect of its ticket order processing fees constitute false advertising in violation of California's False Advertising Law. On this new claim, the amended complaint seeks restitution or disgorgement of the entire amount of order processing fees charged by Ticketmaster during the applicable period. In April 2009, the Court granted the plaintiffs' motion for leave to file a second amended complaint adding new claims that (a) Ticketmaster's order processing fees are unconscionable under the UCL, and (b) Ticketmaster's alleged business practices further violate the California Consumer Legal Remedies Act. Plaintiffs later filed a third amended complaint, to which Ticketmaster filed a demurrer in July 2009. The Court overruled Ticketmaster's demurrer in October 2009.
The plaintiffs filed a class certification motion in August 2009, which Ticketmaster opposed. In February 2010, the Court granted certification of a class on the first and second causes of action, which allege that Ticketmaster misrepresents/omits the fact of a profit component in Ticketmaster's shipping and order processing fees. The class would consist of California consumers who purchased tickets through Ticketmaster's website from 1999 to present. The Court denied certification of a class on the third and fourth causes of action, which allege that Ticketmaster's shipping and order processing fees are unconscionably high. In March 2010, Ticketmaster filed a Petition for Writ of Mandate with the California Court of Appeal, and plaintiffs also filed a motion for reconsideration of the Superior Court's class certification order. In April 2010, the Superior Court denied plaintiffs' Motion for Reconsideration of the Court's class certification order, and the Court of Appeal denied Ticketmaster's Petition for Writ of Mandate. In June 2010, the Court of Appeal granted the plaintiffs' Petition for Writ of Mandate and ordered the Superior Court to vacate its February 2010 order denying plaintiffs' motion to certify a national class and enter a new order granting plaintiffs' motion to certify a nationwide class on the first and second claims. In September 2010, Ticketmaster filed its Motion for Summary Judgment on all causes of action in the Superior Court, and that same month plaintiffs filed their Motion for Summary Adjudication of various affirmative defenses asserted by Ticketmaster. In November 2010, Ticketmaster filed their Motion to Decertify Class.
In December 2010, the parties entered into a binding term sheet that provided for the settlement of the litigation and the resolution of all claims therein. The settlement was memorialized in a long-form agreement in April 2011. In June 2011, after a hearing on the plaintiffs' Motion for Preliminary Approval of the settlement, the Court declined to approve the settlement reached by the parties in its then-current form. Litigation continued, and on September 2, 2011, the Court granted in part and denied in part Ticketmaster's Motion for Summary Judgment. The parties reached a new settlement on September 2, 2011 and subsequently entered into a long-form agreement. The plaintiffs filed a Motion for Preliminary Approval of the new settlement on September 27, 2011. In October 2011, the Court preliminarily approved the new settlement. Ticketmaster has notified all class members of the settlement, and a hearing on final approval of the settlement is scheduled for May 2012. Ticketmaster and its parent, Live Nation, have not acknowledged any violations of law or liability in connection with the matter, but agreed to the settlement in order to eliminate the uncertainties and expense of further protracted litigation.
As of March 31, 2012, the Company has accrued $35.5 million, its best estimate of the probable costs associated with the settlement referred to above. This liability includes an estimated redemption rate. Any difference between the Company's estimated redemption rate and the actual redemption rate it experiences will impact the final settlement amount; however, the Company does not expect this difference to be material.
Canadian Consumer Class Action Litigation Relating to TicketsNow
In February 2009, five putative consumer class action complaints were filed in various provinces of Canada against TicketsNow, Ticketmaster, Ticketmaster Canada Ltd. and Premium Inventory, Inc. All of the cases allege essentially the same set of facts and causes of action. Each plaintiff purports to represent a class consisting of all persons who purchased a ticket from Ticketmaster, Ticketmaster Canada Ltd. or TicketsNow from February 2007 to present and alleges that Ticketmaster conspired to divert a large number of tickets for resale through the TicketsNow website at prices higher than face value. The plaintiffs characterize these actions as being in violation of Ontario's Ticket Speculation Act, the Amusement Act of Manitoba, the Amusement Act of Alberta or the Quebec Consumer Protection Act. The Ontario case contains the additional allegation that Ticketmaster's and TicketsNow's service fees run afoul of anti-scalping laws. Each lawsuit seeks compensatory and punitive damages on behalf of the class.
In February 2012, the parties entered into a settlement agreement that would, if approved by the courts, resolve all of the resale market claims. The court approval process for the proposed settlement has been commenced, with pre-approvals having been afforded in all provinces in which the actions are pending. The process is expected to take several months, with final approval hearings in all provinces scheduled for the summer of 2012.
As of March 31, 2012, the Company has accrued its best estimate of the probable costs associated with the resale market claims of this matter, the full amount of which was funded by an escrow established in connection with Ticketmaster's 2008 acquisition of TicketsNow.
While it is reasonably possible that a loss related to the primary market claims of this matter could be incurred by the Company in a future period, the Company does not believe that a loss is probable of occurring at this time. Considerable uncertainty remains regarding the validity of the claims and damages asserted against the Company. As a result, the Company is currently unable to estimate the possible loss or range of loss for the primary market claims of this matter. The Company intends to continue to vigorously defend all claims in all of the actions.
From time to time, the Company is involved in other legal proceedings arising in the ordinary course of its business, including proceedings and claims based upon violations of antitrust laws and tortious interference, which could cause the Company to incur significant expenses. The Company has also been the subject of personal injury and wrongful death claims relating to accidents at its venues in connection with its operations. As required, the Company has accrued its estimate of the probable settlement or other losses for the resolution of any outstanding claims. These estimates have been developed in consultation with counsel and are based upon an analysis of potential results, including, in some cases, estimated redemption rates for the settlement offered, assuming a combination of litigation and settlement strategies. It is possible, however, that future results of operations for any particular period could be materially affected by changes in the Company's assumptions or the effectiveness of its strategies related to these proceedings. In addition, under the Company's agreements with Clear Channel, it has assumed and will indemnify Clear Channel for liabilities related to its business for which they are a party in the defense.
As of March 31, 2012, the Company has accrued $41.6 million for the specific cases discussed above as its best estimate of the probable costs of legal settlement, including $35.5 million for the Ticketing Fees Consumer Class Action litigation settlement.
The entire disclosure for commitments and contingencies.
Reference 1: http://www.xbrl.org/2003/role/presentationRef