Commitments And Contingencies
|3 Months Ended
Mar. 31, 2015
|Commitments and Contingencies Disclosure [Abstract]
|Commitments And Contingencies
(9) Commitments and Contingencies
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 condensed consolidated financial statements with respect to these indemnification guarantees.
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 March 31, 2015 aggregated $414 million, which is payable as follows: $88 million in 2015, $77 million in 2016, $90 million in 2017, $55 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.
The Company and its subsidiaries lease business offices, have entered into satellite transponder lease agreements and use certain equipment under lease arrangements.
The Company has contingent liabilities related to legal and tax proceedings and other matters arising in the ordinary course of business. Although it is reasonably possible the Company may incur losses upon conclusion of such matters, an estimate of any loss or range of loss cannot be made. 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 condensed 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 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 it has substantial defenses to the claims asserted and is defending 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. SIRIUS XM is appealing the decisions issued by the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York and the Superior Court of the State of California for the County of Los Angeles, and intends to appeal the decision of the United States District Court for the Central District of California.
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 SIRIUS XM’s 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. 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 it has substantial defenses to the claims asserted and intends to defend these actions vigorously.
SIRIUS XM is also a defendant in several purported class action suits, which were commenced in February 2012, January 2013, January 2015 and April 2015, in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, Newport News Division, the United States District Court for the Southern District of California and the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois 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. Plaintiffs in certain of these suits have filed a motion with the Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation to transfer these purported class actions, and other allegedly related cases, to the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois for consolidated or coordinated pretrial proceedings. 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.