CHARTER COMMUNICATIONS HOLDING COMPANY, LLC AND SUBSIDIARIES
NOTES TO CONSOLIDATED FINANCIAL STATEMENTS -- (CONTINUED)
to expense in the period incurred. Expenditures for repairs and maintenance are
charged to expense as incurred, and equipment replacement and betterments are
Depreciation is provided on the straight-line basis over the estimated
useful lives of the related assets as follows:
Cable distribution systems.................................. 3-15 years
Buildings and leasehold improvements........................ 5-15 years
Vehicles and equipment...................................... 3-5 years
In 1997, the Company shortened the useful lives from 10 years to 5 years of
certain plant and equipment included in cable distribution systems associated
with costs of new customer installations. As a result, additional depreciation
of $550 was recorded during 1997. The estimated useful lives were shortened to
be more reflective of average customer lives.
Costs incurred in obtaining and renewing cable franchises are deferred and
amortized over the lives of the franchises. Costs relating to unsuccessful
franchise applications are charged to expense when it is determined that the
efforts to obtain the franchise will not be successful. Franchise rights
acquired through the purchase of cable television systems represent management's
estimate of fair value and are generally amortized using the straight-line
method over a period of 15 years. The period of 15 years is management's best
estimate of the useful lives of the franchises and assumes substantially all of
those franchises that expire during the period will be renewed by the Company.
IMPAIRMENT OF ASSETS
If facts and circumstances suggest that a long-lived asset may be impaired,
the carrying value is reviewed. If a review indicates that the carrying value of
such asset is not recoverable based on projected undiscounted cash flows related
to the asset over its remaining life, the carrying value of such asset is
reduced to its estimated fair value.
Cable television revenues from basic and premium services are recognized
when the related services are provided.
Installation revenues are recognized to the extent of direct selling costs
incurred. The remainder, if any, is deferred and amortized to income over the
estimated average period that customers are expected to remain connected to the
cable television system. As of December 31, 1997, no installation revenue has
been deferred, as direct selling costs have exceeded installation revenue.
Fees collected from programmers to guarantee carriage are deferred and
amortized to income over the life of the contracts. Local governmental
authorities impose franchise fees on the Company ranging up to a federally
mandated maximum of 5.0% of gross revenues. On a monthly basis, such fees are
collected from the Company's customers and are periodically remitted to local
franchises. Franchise fees collected and paid are reported as revenues.