TCI FALCON SYSTEMS
(A COMBINATION OF CERTAIN ASSETS, AS DEFINED IN NOTE 1)
NOTES TO COMBINED FINANCIAL STATEMENTS -- (CONTINUED)
cable programming service tier ("CPST"). The FCC's authority to regulate CPST
rates expired on March 31, 1999. The FCC has taken the position that it will
still adjudicate CPST complaints filed after this sunset date (but no later than
180 days after the last CPST rate increase imposed prior to March 31, 1999), and
will strictly limit its review (and possible refund orders) to the time period
predating the sunset date.
Under the FCC's rate regulations, most cable systems were required to
reduce their BST and CPST rates in 1993 and 1994, and have since had their rate
increases governed by a complicated price structure that allows for the recovery
of inflation and certain increased costs, as well as providing some incentive
for expanding channel carriage. Operators also have the opportunity to bypass
this "benchmark" regulatory structure in favor of the traditional "cost-of-
service" regulation in cases where the latter methodology appears favorable.
Premium cable services offered on a per-channel or per-program basis remain
unregulated, as do affirmatively marketed packages consisting entirely of new
The management of the TCI Falcon Systems believes that it has complied in
all material respects with the provisions of the 1992 Cable Act and the 1996
Act, including its rate setting provisions. If, as a result of the review
process, a system cannot substantiate its rates, it could be required to
retroactively reduce its rates to the appropriate benchmark and refund the
excess portion of rates received. Any refunds of the excess portion of CPST
rates would be retroactive to the date of complaint. Any refunds of the excess
portion of BST or equipment rates would be retroactive to one year prior to the
implementation of the rate reductions.
Certain plaintiffs have filed or threatened separate class action
complaints against certain of the systems of TCI Falcon Systems, alleging that
the systems' practice of assessing an administrative fee to customers whose
payments are delinquent constitutes an invalid liquidated damage provision, a
breach of contract, and violates local consumer protection statutes. Plaintiffs
seek recovery of all late fees paid to the subject systems as a class purporting
to consist of all customers who were assessed such fees during the applicable
limitation period, plus attorney fees and costs.
The TCI Falcon Systems have contingent liabilities related to legal
proceedings and other matters arising in the ordinary course of business.
Although it is possible the TCI Falcon Systems may incur losses upon conclusion
of the matters referred to above, an estimate of any loss or range of loss
cannot presently be made. Based upon the facts available, management believes
that, although no assurance can be given as to the outcome of these actions, the
ultimate disposition should not have a material adverse effect upon the combined
financial condition of the TCI Falcon Systems.
The TCI Falcon Systems lease business offices, have entered into pole
rental agreements and use certain equipment under lease arrangements. Rental
expense under such arrangements amounted to $1,268,000, $1,868,000 and
$1,370,000 for the nine-month period ended September 30, 1998, and the years
ended December 31, 1997 and 1996, respectively.