Date of Completion


Degree Type

Honors Thesis - Campus Access


Accounting (ACCT)

First Advisor

Laurel Franzen, Ph.d.


The question of recognition versus disclosure of financial information has become a topic of discussion by regulators and standard setters in recent years. To the seasoned investor, a company’s financial statements present a wealth of knowledge regarding the viability of future investments, but the average investor often limits his/her research to items recognized in the financial statements and barely glances at disclosure notes before making his/her decision. According to Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP), entertainment broadcasters are only required to disclose commitments for license agreements if the criteria for recognition have not been met. Many of these license agreements relate to film programming, sports programming, and streamed content that have surged in popularity in this digital age. As a result, many of these companies have billions of dollars of new obligations that are not required to be recognized on the balance sheet. Would formal recognition of these programming rights more accurately represent these companies’ financial positions to their investors? Through the utilization of the Securities and Exchange Commission’s (SEC) online EDGAR database, I looked at specific account balances and disclosure notes related to programming commitments for a sample of publicly-traded entertainment broadcasters. I analyzed the trend in amounts spent on acquiring programming rights and assessed the informativeness and adequacy of the disclosures regarding these commitments. My findings regarding the magnitude of these commitments and the nature of these disclosures should help to inform the debate on whether disclosed items should be formally recognized in financial statements.