Annual report pursuant to Section 13 and 15(d)

Commitments And Contingencies

Commitments And Contingencies
12 Months Ended
Dec. 31, 2014
Commitments and Contingencies Disclosure [Abstract]  
Commitments And Contingencies

(17)Commitments and Contingencies




In prior periods the Company guaranteed Starz's obligations under certain of its studio output agreements. At December 31, 2014, the Company's guarantee of the studio output agreements have been fully satisfied as Starz has made all applicable payments under the studio output agreements.


In connection with agreements for the sale of assets by the Company or its subsidiaries, the Company may retain liabilities that relate to events occurring prior to its sale, such as tax, environmental, litigation and employment matters. The Company generally indemnifies the purchaser in the event that a third party asserts a claim against the purchaser that relates to a liability retained by the Company. These types of indemnification obligations may extend for a number of years. The Company is unable to estimate the maximum potential liability for these types of indemnification obligations as the sale agreements may not specify a maximum amount and the amounts are dependent upon the outcome of future contingent events, the nature and likelihood of which cannot be determined at this time. Historically, the Company has not made any significant indemnification payments under such agreements and no amount has been accrued in the accompanying consolidated financial statements with respect to these indemnification guarantees.


Employment Contracts


The Atlanta Braves and certain of their players and coaches have entered into long-term employment contracts whereby such individuals' compensation is guaranteed. Amounts due under guaranteed contracts as of December 31, 2014 aggregated $398 million, which is payable as follows: $80 million in 2015,  $72 million in 2016, $88 million in 2017, $54 million in 2018, and $104 million thereafter. In addition to the foregoing amounts, certain players and coaches may earn incentive compensation under the terms of their employment contracts.


Operating Leases


 The Company leases business offices, has entered into satellite transponder lease agreements and uses certain equipment under lease arrangements. These leases provide for minimum lease payments, additional operating expense charges, leasehold improvements and rent escalations, and certain leases have options to renew. The effect of the rent holidays and rent concessions are recognized on a straight-line basis over the lease term, including reasonably assured renewal periods.


Rental expense under such arrangements amounted to $52 million, $48 million and $9 million for the years ended December 31, 2014, 2013 and 2012, respectively.


A summary of future minimum lease payments under cancelable and noncancelable operating leases as of December 31, 2014 follows (amounts in millions):








Years ending December 31:




































It is expected that in the normal course of business, leases that expire generally will be renewed or replaced by leases on other properties; thus, it is anticipated that future lease commitments will not be less than the amount shown for 2014.


Programming and content


SIRIUS XM has entered into various programming agreements under which SIRIUS XM's obligations include fixed payments, advertising commitments and revenue sharing arrangements. Amounts due under such agreements are payable as follows: $231 million in 2015, $110 million in 2016, $75 million in 2017, $60 million in 2018 and $48 million in 2019. Future revenue sharing costs are dependent upon many factors and are difficult to estimate; therefore, they are not included in the amounts above.




The Company has contingent liabilities related to legal and tax proceedings and other matters arising in the ordinary course of business. We record a liability when we believe that it is both probable that a liability will be incurred and the amount of loss can be reasonably estimated. We evaluate developments in legal matters that could affect the amount of the liability accrual and make adjustments as appropriate. Significant judgment is required to determine both probability and the estimated amount of a loss or potential loss. We may be unable to reasonably estimate the reasonably possible loss or range of loss for a particular legal contingency for various reasons, including, among others, because: (i) the damages sought are indeterminate; (ii) the proceedings are in the relative early stages; (iii) there is uncertainty as to the outcome of pending proceedings (including motions and appeals); (iv) there is uncertainty as to the likelihood of settlement and the outcome of any negotiations with respect thereto; (v) there remain significant factual issues to be determined or resolved; (vi) the relevant law is unsettled; or (vii) the proceedings involve novel or untested legal theories. In such instances, there may be considerable uncertainty regarding the ultimate resolution of such matters, including a possible eventual loss, if any. In the opinion of management, it is expected that amounts, if any, which may be required to satisfy such contingencies will not be material in relation to the accompanying consolidated financial statements.


In connection with a commercial transaction that closed during 2002 among Liberty, Vivendi Universal S.A. (“Vivendi”) and the former USA Holdings, Inc., Liberty brought suit against Vivendi and Universal Studios, Inc. in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York, alleging, among other things, breach of contract and fraud by Vivendi. On June 25, 2012, a jury awarded Liberty damages in the amount of €765 million, plus prejudgment interest, in connection with a finding of breach of contract and fraud by the defendants.  On January 17, 2013, the court entered judgment in favor of Liberty in the amount of approximately €945 million, including prejudgment interest. The parties negotiated a stay of the execution of the judgment during the pendency of the appeal.  Vivendi has filed notice of its appeal of the judgment to the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, and, in that court, Liberty intends to seek a higher rate of pre-judgment interest than what the district court awarded.  As a result, the amount that Liberty may ultimately recover in connection with the final resolution of the action, if any, is uncertain. Any recovery by Liberty will not be reflected in our consolidated financial statements until such time as the final disposition of this matter has been reached.


SIRIUS XM is a defendant in three class action suits and one additional suit, which were commenced in August and September 2013 and challenge the use and public performance via satellite radio and the Internet of sound recordings fixed prior to February 15, 1972 under California, New York and/or Florida law.  The plaintiffs in each of these suits purport to seek in excess of $100 million in compensatory damages along with unspecified punitive damages and injunctive relief.   Accordingly, at this point SIRIUS XM cannot estimate the reasonably possible loss, or range of loss, which could be incurred if the plaintiffs were to prevail in the allegations, but SIRIUS XM believes they have substantial defenses to the claims asserted and intend to defend these actions vigorously.

In September 2014, the United States District Court for the Central District of California ruled that the grant of “exclusive ownership” to the owner of a sound recording under California’s copyright statute included the exclusive right to control public performances of the sound recording.  The court further found that the unauthorized public performance of sound recordings violated California laws on unfair competition, misappropriation and conversion.  In October 2014, the Superior Court of the State of California for the County of Los Angeles adopted the Central District Court's interpretation of "exclusive ownership" under California's copyright statute.  That Court did not find that the unauthorized public performance of sound recordings violated California laws on unfair competition, misappropriation and conversion.  In November 2014, the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York ruled that sound recordings fixed before February 15, 1972 were entitled under various theories of New York common law to the benefits of a public performances right and intend to appeal these decisions.


In addition, in August 2013, SoundExchange, Inc. filed a complaint in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia alleging that SIRIUS XM underpaid royalties for statutory licenses during the 2007-2012 rate period in violation of the regulations established by the Copyright Royalty Board for that period.  SoundExchange principally alleges that SIRIUS XM improperly reduced its calculation of gross revenues, on which the royalty payments are based, by deducting non-recognized revenue attributable to pre-1972 recordings and Premier package revenue that is not “separately charged” as required by the regulations.  SoundExchange is seeking compensatory damages of not less than $50 million and up to $100 million or more, payment of late fees and interest, and attorneys’ fees and costs.


In August 2014, the United States District Court for the District of Columbia granted our motion to dismiss the complaint without prejudice on the grounds that the case properly should be pursued before the Copyright Royalty Board rather than the district court.  In December 2014, SoundExchange filed a petition with the Copyright Royalty Board requesting an order interpreting the applicable regulations.  The Copyright Royalty Board has requested that the parties submit briefs regarding whether the agency properly has jurisdiction to interpret the regulations and adjudicate this matter under the applicable statute.  At this point SIRIUS XM cannot estimate the reasonably possible loss, or range of loss, which could be incurred if the plaintiffs were to prevail in the allegations, but SIRIUS XM believes they have substantial defenses to the claims asserted and intend to defend these actions vigorously.


SIRIUS XM is also a defendant in three purported class action suits, which were commenced in February 2012, January 2013 and January 2015, in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, Newport News Division, and the United States District Court for the Southern District of California that allege that SIRIUS XM, or certain call center vendors acting on its behalf, made numerous calls which violate provisions of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act of 1991 (the “TCPA”). The plaintiffs in these actions allege, among other things, that SIRIUS XM called mobile phones using an automatic telephone dialing system without the consumer’s prior consent or, alternatively, after the consumer revoked their prior consent and, in one of the actions, that SIRIUS XM violated the TCPA’s call time restrictions. The plaintiffs in these suits are seeking various forms of relief, including statutory damages of $500 for each violation of the TCPA or, in the alternative, treble damages of up to $1,500 for each knowing and willful violation of the TCPA, as well as payment of interest, attorneys’ fees and costs, and certain injunctive relief prohibiting violations of the TCPA in the future. SIRIUS XM believes it has substantial defenses to the claims asserted in these actions and intends to defend them vigorously.


SIRIUS XM has notified certain of its call center vendors of these actions and requested that they defend and indemnify it against these claims pursuant to the provisions of their existing or former agreements with SIRIUS XM. SIRIUS XM believes it has valid contractual claims against certain call center vendors in connection with these claims and intends to preserve and pursue its rights to recover from these entities.


With respect to the SIRIUS XM matters described above, it was determined, based on current knowledge, that the amount of loss or range of loss that is reasonably possible is not reasonably estimable.  However, these matters are inherently unpredictable and subject to significant uncertainties, many of which are beyond SIRIUS XM’s control.  As such, there can be no assurance that the final outcome of these matters will not materially and adversely affect the business, financial condition, results of operations, or cash flows.




During the period from March 9, 1999 to August 10, 2001, Liberty Interactive (Liberty's former parent) was included in the consolidated federal income tax return of AT&T and was party to a tax sharing agreement with AT&T (the "AT&T Tax Sharing Agreement"). While Liberty Interactive was a subsidiary of AT&T, Liberty Interactive recorded its stand-alone tax provision on a separate return basis. Under the AT&T Tax Sharing Agreement, Liberty Interactive received a cash payment from AT&T in periods when Liberty Interactive generated taxable losses and such taxable losses were utilized by AT&T to reduce its consolidated income tax liability. To the extent such losses were not utilized by AT&T, such amounts were available to reduce federal taxable income generated by Liberty Interactive  in future periods, similar to a net operating loss carryforward, and were accounted for as a deferred federal income tax benefit. Subsequent to Liberty Interactive's split off from AT&T, if adjustments were made to amounts previously paid under the AT&T Tax Sharing Agreement, such adjustments are reflected as adjustments to additional paid-in capital. During the period from March 10, 1999 to December 31, 2002, Liberty Interactive received cash payments from AT&T aggregating $670 million as payment for Liberty Interactive's taxable losses that AT&T utilized to reduce its income tax liability.  AT&T requested a refund from Liberty of $70 million, plus accrued interest, relating to losses that it generated in 2002 and 2003 and was able to carry back to offset taxable income previously offset by Liberty Interactive's losses. AT&T had previously asserted that Liberty Interactive's losses caused AT&T to pay $70 million in alternative minimum tax ("AMT") that it would not have been otherwise required to pay had Liberty Interactive's losses not been included in its return.


Liberty indemnified Liberty Interactive for the contingent liability and therefore the liability remained with Liberty after the Split-Off.  In prior years, a $72 million contingent liability was recorded through additional paid in capital as these liabilities were considered to have been equity transactions with Liberty Interactive's former parent.  Additionally, interest was accrued on the liabilities and recorded through interest expense, until the amounts reached an amount the Company considered to be the maximum exposure under the contingent liability.  The total liability recorded, including accrued interest was $128 million.  During the year ended December 31, 2012, the Company determined that a requisite amount of time had passed under the applicable state statutes and that the liability should be released.  As $72 million was originally set up through additional paid in capital that amount of the liability was relieved against additional paid in capital and the remainder was recorded through the Other, net line item in the Other income (expense) section of the accompanying consolidated Statement of Operations.