Gemstar-TV Guide International

By Maureen McNichols, Nate Blair
2010 | Case No. A208 | Length 22 pgs.

Normally, serving on a company’s board of directors is not a full-time job, but in the summer of 2002, Nick Donatiello (GSB 1986) found himself in exactly that position.  As a member of Gemstar-TV Guide International’s (Gemstar’s or the Company’s) board of directors and its Audit Committee, Donatiello was caught up in a storm of accounting issues, shareholder lawsuits and a power struggle between the Company’s largest shareholders.

Donatiello, one of only three independent directors on the board, wanted to do what was right for shareholders.  However, the decisions required to arrive at that outcome were far from clear.

This case centers on accounting and governance issues that arose during the 2001 audit of Gemstar TV Guide International.  In summary, although management and the company’s auditors, KPMG, agreed with the recognition of certain revenues, the company’s audit committee believed that those revenues should be restated.  The case discusses the specifics of two accounting issues, in particular, and also provides an overview of the company and the various parties involved.

Learning Objective

The case leads to a decision point whereby students can be asked whether they would fire the company’s auditors and restate earnings or agree with the accounting treatment advocated by management and KPMG. Raises issues including the role of the audit committee, revenue recognition criteria and general governance practices.
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