Audit Committee Charter
There will be a committee of the Board of Directors (the "Board") of Ascent Capital Group,Inc (the "Corporation") which will be called the Audit Committee.
Statement of Purpose
The purpose of the Audit Committee is to provide assistance to the Board of Directors in fulfilling the Board's responsibilities to the Corporation and its shareholders relating to the accounting and financial reporting process and the internal and external audits of the Corporation's financial statements. To that end, the Audit Committee will oversee management's processes and activities relating to, among other things:
- maintaining the reliability and integrity of the Corporation's accounting policies, financial reporting practices and financial statements;
- the appointment or removal of independent auditors;
- the independent auditor's qualifications and independence;
- the performance of the Corporation's internal audit function and independent auditor and compliance with applicable laws relating to accounting practices; and
- confirming compliance with U.S. Federal laws and regulations, the requirements of any stock exchange or quotation system on which the Corporation's securities may be listed, and national association of securities dealers rules regarding audit committees.
The Audit Committee will prepare the report required by the rules of the Securities and Exchange Commission (the "Commission") to be included in the Corporation's annual proxy statement.
The Audit Committee will consist of no fewer than three members. The Audit Committee will be composed of directors who satisfy the independence, experience and financial expertise requirements set forth in the Corporate Governance Rules of The Nasdaq Stock Market, Inc. and Section 10A of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended (the "Exchange Act"), including the rules and regulations promulgated thereunder. In addition, at least one member of the Audit Committee will have past employment experience in finance or accounting, requisite professional certification in accounting, or other comparable experience or background which results in the individual's financial sophistication, including a current or past position as a chief executive or financial officer or other senior officer with financial oversight responsibilities. The Board may, in its discretion, determine that one or more members of the Audit Committee are "financial experts" as defined by the Commission.
The members of the Audit Committee will be appointed, and may from time to time be removed, by the Board.
The Audit Committee will meet periodically with management, the internal auditors (or other personnel responsible for the internal audit) and the independent auditor in separate executive sessions in furtherance of its purposes.
Functions and Responsibilities
In furtherance of the purposes set forth above, the Audit Committee will perform the functions and responsibilities described in this Charter as appropriate and will have all powers of the Board necessary or desirable to perform such functions and responsibilities as may be delegated to a committee of the Board under Delaware law. Notwithstanding the enumeration of specific functions and responsibilities herein, the Audit Committee believes that its policies and procedures should remain flexible, in order to best respond to changing circumstances and conditions in fulfilling its responsibilities to the Corporation and its shareholders. The Audit Committee may by resolution establish its own rules and regulations, including notice and quorum requirements for all meetings. In the absence of such rules and regulations, the provisions of the Corporation's bylaws generally applicable to committees of the Board will apply.
The Audit Committee will have the sole authority to appoint or replace the independent auditor (subject, if applicable, to shareholder ratification), and will approve all audit engagement fees and terms and significant non-audit engagements with the independent auditor. The Audit Committee will be directly responsible for the oversight of the work of the independent auditor (including resolution of disagreements between management and the independent auditor regarding financial reporting) for the purpose of preparing or issuing an audit report or related work or performing other audit, review or attest services. The independent auditor will report directly to the Audit Committee.
All auditing services and permitted non-audit services (including the fees and terms thereof) to be performed for the Corporation by its independent auditor must be approved by the Audit Committee in advance, subject to the de minimus exceptions for non-audit services described in Section 10A(i)(l)(B) of the Exchange Act which are approved by the Audit Committee prior to the completion of the audit. The Audit Committee may form and delegate authority to subcommittees consisting of one or more members or may delegate authority to one or more members, including the authority to grant preapprovals of audit and permitted non-audit services, provided that all decisions to grant preapprovals pursuant to such delegated authority will be presented to the entire Audit Committee at its next scheduled meeting.
The Audit Committee will have the authority, to the extent it deems necessary or appropriate to carry out its functions and responsibilities, to retain independent legal, accounting or other advisors. The Corporation will provide for appropriate funding, as determined by the Audit Committee, for the payment of compensation to the independent auditor for the purpose of rendering or issuing an audit report or related work or performing other audit, review or attest services and to any advisors employed by the Audit Committee.
The Audit Committee will make regular reports to the Board. The Audit Committee will review and reassess the adequacy of this Charter annually and recommend any proposed changes to the Board for approval.
In addition, the Audit Committee will:
Financial Statement and Disclosure Matters
- Review and discuss with management and the independent auditor the Corporation's annual audited financial statements, including disclosures made in "Management's Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations," and recommend to the Board whether the audited financial statements should be included in the Corporation's Form 10-K.
- Review and discuss with management and the independent auditor the Corporation's quarterly financial statements, including disclosures made in "Management's Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations," prior to the filing of its Form 10-Q, including the results of the independent auditor's review of the quarterly financial statements.
- Review and discuss with management and the independent auditor, as applicable, (A) significant issues regarding accounting principles and financial statement presentations, including any significant changes in the Corporation's selection or application of accounting principles, major issues as to the adequacy of the Corporation's internal controls and any special audit steps adopted in light of material control deficiencies; (B) analyses prepared by management or the independent auditor setting forth significant financial reporting issues and judgments made in connection with the preparation of the financial statements, including analyses of the effects of alternative generally accepted accounting principles ("GAAP") methods on the financial statements; (C) the effect of regulatory and accounting initiatives, as well as off-balance sheet structures, on the financial statements of the Corporation; and (D) earnings press releases (paying particular attention to any use of "pro forma" or "adjusted" non-GAAP information) as well as financial information and earnings guidance (generally or on a case-by-case basis) provided to analysts and rating agencies.
- Hold meetings, no less than quarterly, to review and discuss reports from the independent auditor on (A) all critical accounting policies and practices to be used; (B) all alternative treatments of financial information within GAAP that have been discussed with management, ramifications of the use of such alternative disclosures and treatments, and treatments preferred by the independent auditor; and (C) other material written communications between the independent auditor and management, such as any management letter or schedule of unadjusted differences.
- Discuss with management the Corporation's major financial risk exposures and the steps management has taken to monitor and control such risk exposures, including the Corporation's risk assessment and risk management policies or guidelines.
- Discuss with the independent auditor the matters required to be discussed by Statement on Auditing Standards No. 61 relating to the conduct of the audit or any review services, including any difficulties encountered in the course of the audit or review work, any restrictions on the scope of activities or access to requested information, and any significant disagreements with management.
- Review disclosures made to the Audit Committee by the Corporation's CEO and CFO during their certification process for the Form 10-K and Form 10-Q about any significant deficiencies in the design or operation of internal controls or material weaknesses therein and any fraud involving management or other employees who have a significant role in the Corporation's internal controls.
- Discuss with the independent auditor the matters required to be discussed by Auditing Standard No. 16 relating to communications between the independent auditor and the Audit Committee.
Oversight of the Corporation's Relationship with the Independent Auditor
- (1) Obtain and review a report from the independent auditor at least annually regarding (A) the audit firm's internal quality-control procedures, (B) any material issues raised by the most recent internal quality-control review, or peer review, of the firm, or by an inquiry or investigation by governmental or professional authorities within the preceding five years respecting one or more independent audits carried out by the firm, (C) any steps taken to deal with such issues, and (D) all relationships between the independent auditor and the Corporation (consistent with the Independence Standards Board Standard 1); (2) evaluate the qualifications, performance and independence of the independent auditor, including a review and evaluation of the lead partner of the independent auditor considering whether the auditor's internal quality-controls are adequate and the provision of permitted non-audit services is compatible with maintaining the auditor's independence, and taking into account the opinions of management and the Corporation's internal auditors; and (3) present its conclusions with respect to the independent auditor to the Board.
- Ensure the rotation of the lead (or coordinating) audit partner having primary responsibility for the audit and the audit partner responsible for reviewing the audit as required by law.
- Recommend to the Board policies regarding any potential hiring by the Corporation of employees or former employees of the independent auditor who were engaged on the Corporation's account or otherwise participated in any audit of the Corporation.
- Discuss with the independent auditor any accounting or auditing issues with respect to which the Corporation's audit team consulted with the independent auditor's national office.
- Review with the independent auditor any audit problems or difficulties and management's response.
- Meet with the independent auditor prior to the audit to discuss the planning and staffing of the audit.
Oversight of the Corporation's Internal Audit Function
Ensure the Corporation maintains an internal audit function.
Discuss with the independent auditor and management the internal auditor function's responsibilities, budget and staffing and any recommendations or suggested changes in the planned scope of the internal audit.
Review with the internal auditor, on a periodic basis as appropriate, the results of specified projects assigned to the internal auditor, and coordinate with management to ensure that any significant findings or control weaknesses are addressed and resolved.
Compliance Oversight Responsibilities
- Review any reports of the independent auditor mandated by Section 10A of the Exchange Act and obtain from the independent auditor any information with respect to illegal acts in accordance with Section 10A.
- Establish procedures for the receipt, retention and treatment of complaints received by the Corporation regarding accounting, internal accounting controls or audit matters, and the confidential, anonymous submission by employees of concerns regarding questionable accounting or auditing matters.
- Take actions necessary to enforce the Code of Business Conduct and Ethics adopted by the Board, including the establishment of procedures to consider alleged violations of that Code, waivers of provisions of that Code, and reporting and disclosure of such violations and waivers.
Limitation on Audit Committee's Role
While the Audit Committee has the responsibilities and powers set forth in this Charter, it is not the duty of the Audit Committee to, and the Audit Committee will not, (a) plan or conduct audits, (b) prepare the Corporation's financial statements, or (c) determine or certify that the Corporation's financial statements and disclosures are complete and accurate and are in accordance with GAAP and applicable rules and regulations. These are the responsibilities of management and the independent auditor.
ADOPTED, by the Corporation's Board of Directors the 25th day of February, 2013.
- Professional Background: A director of our company since September 2008. Mr. Holthouse has been a partner with Holthouse Carlin & Van Trigt LLP since 1991, where he provides tax planning and tax consulting services for privately held businesses and high net-worth individuals primarily in the real estate, entertainment and service industries. Mr. Holthouse is a certified public accountant.
- Other Public Company Directorships: Mr. Holthouse served on the board of directors and audit committee of Napster, Inc. from January 2004 to October 2008.
- Board Qualification: Mr. Holthouse brings to our Board experience as a public company director and an audit committee member. His tax and accounting training enables him to provide our Board with sophisticated financial insight and to fulfill his function as audit committee chairman.
- Professional Background: A director of our company since September 2008. Mr. Pohl serves as an advisor to companies in the technology, media and telecommunications industries. Mr. Pohl has served on the board of directors of BlackArrow, Inc. since January 2012 and was appointed as Chairman of its board of directors in June 2012. Mr. Pohl has served on the board of Think Analytics since March 2013 and on the board of Imagine Communications Corp. since March 2013, having previously served on the board of its predecessor, Harris Broadcast. From December 2007 to April 2008, Mr. Pohl served as the Interim Vice President/General Manager of the On Demand Systems Division of ARRIS Group, Inc., a communications technology company specializing in the design and engineering of broadband networks (ARRIS). Mr. Pohl was President of Global Strategies at C-COR Incorporated (C-COR) from December 2005 to November 2007, when C-COR was acquired by ARRIS, and served as the President and Chief Executive Officer of nCUBE Corporation, an interactive video server company, from December 1999 to December 2005. Mr. Pohl has been and continues to be actively involved in numerous industry associations and received the National Cable and Telecommunications Association’s highest honor, the Vanguard Award, in 2008.
- Other Public Company Directorships: Mr. Pohl served on the board of directors and compensation committee of BigBand Networks, Inc. from May 2009 through the sale of the company to ARRIS in November 2011, during which time he served on the audit committee of its board of directors beginning in June 2009 and served as Chairman of its board of directors beginning in February 2010.
- Board Qualification: Mr. Pohl brings to our Board valuable technological insight and over 25 years of extensive experience with technology companies. His management experience and financial expertise is complemented by his knowledge of applied sciences.
- Professional Background: A director of our company since December 2009. Mr. Vogel is currently a Senior Advisor to DISH Networks Corporation (DISH), a publicly-traded company providing pay-TV services, and served as President of DISH from September 2006 until February 2008 and Vice Chairman of DISH from June 2005 until March 2009. Mr. Vogel has also been the president and sole stockholder of Bulldog Capital, Inc., a private investment firm, through which he has, since November 2011, been a Senior Advisor of The Gores Group, a Los Angeles based private equity firm. From October 2007 until March 2009, Mr. Vogel served as a Senior Advisor to EchoStar Corporation (EchoStar), a publicly-traded company in the digital set-top box and satellite services businesses. From 2001 until 2005, Mr. Vogel served as the President and CEO of Charter Communications Inc. (Charter), a publicly-traded company providing cable television and broadband services. Prior to joining Charter, Mr. Vogel worked as an executive officer in various capacities for companies affiliated with the predecessors of Liberty Interactive Corporation and Old LMC. Mr. Vogel held various executive positions with DISH from 1994 until 1997, including serving as the President from 1995 until 1997. Mr. Vogel also has served on various private company boards.
- Other Public Company Directorships: Mr. Vogel has served on the board of directors AMC Networks Inc. (AMC Networks) since June of 2013 and serves as chairman of the audit committee of AMC Networks and as a member of its compensation committee. Mr. Vogel has served on the board of directors of DISH since May 2005 and on the board of directors and audit committee of Universal Electronics Inc., a publicly-traded company providing wireless control technology for the connected home, since October 2009. In addition, Mr. Vogel has served on the board of directors of Sirius XM Holdings Inc. (Sirius), a publicly-traded satellite radio system operator and broadcaster, since April 2011, and has served on its compensation committee and nominating and corporate governance committee of Sirius since 2012 and has served as chairman of its compensation committee since April 2013. Mr. Vogel has also served on the board of directors and audit committees of Shaw Communications, Inc., a publicly-traded diversified communications company providing broadband cable and direct-to-home satellite services in Canada, since 2006 and NextWave Wireless Inc. from November 2009 to January 2013 (where he has served as the chair of the audit committee from March 2010 to January 2013). From October 2007 until March 2009, Mr. Vogel served as the Vice Chairman of the board of directors of EchoStar. From October 2001 to January 2005, Mr. Vogel served on the board of directors of Charter.
- Board Qualification: Mr. Vogel brings to our Board extensive executive leadership experience and board experience, including experience with subscription-based businesses, along with professional accounting and financial expertise.