Annual report pursuant to Section 13 and 15(d)

Commitments And Contingencies

Commitments And Contingencies
12 Months Ended
Dec. 31, 2015
Commitments and Contingencies Disclosure [Abstract]  
Commitments And Contingencies

(16)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 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, 2015 aggregated $273 million, which is payable as follows: $77 million in 2016,  $54 million in 2017, $49 million in 2018, $40 million in 2019, and $53 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 $53 million, $52 million and $48 million for the years ended December 31, 2015,  2014 and 2013, respectively.


A summary of future minimum lease payments under cancelable and noncancelable operating leases as of December 31, 2015 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 2015.


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: $247 million in 2016, $225 million in 2017, $205 million in 2018, $188 million in 2019 and $163 million in 2020. 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 filed notice of its appeal of the judgment to the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. Subsequent to December 31, 2015 Liberty entered into a settlement with Vivendi which resulted in a $775 million payment to settle all claims related to the dispute described above.  Following the payment of a contingency fee to our legal counsel, as well as amounts payable to Liberty Global plc, an additional plaintiff in the action, Liberty expects to net pre-tax proceeds of approximately $510 million. This settlement will result in a dismissal of all appeals and mutual releases of the parties. 


SIRIUS XM is a defendant in several purported class action suits 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. In one of the actions, the plaintiff alleges that SIRIUS XM violated the TCPA’s call time restrictions, and in one of the other actions, the plaintiff also alleges that SIRIUS XM violated the TCPA’s do not call restrictions. SIRIUS XM’s vendors make millions of calls each month to consumers, including SIRIUS XM’s subscribers, as part of its customer service and marketing efforts.  The plaintiffs in these suits are seeking various forms of relief, including statutory damages of five-hundred dollars for each violation of the TCPA or, in the alternative, treble damages of up to fifteen-hundred dollars 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.

These purported class action cases are titled Erik Knutson v. Sirius XM Radio Inc., No. 12-cv-0418-AJB-NLS (S.D. Cal.), Francis W. Hooker v. Sirius XM Radio, Inc., No. 4:13-cv-3 (E.D. Va.), Yefim Elikman v. Sirius XM Radio, Inc. and Career Horizons, Inc., No. 1:15-cv-02093 (N.D. Ill.), and Anthony Parker v. Sirius XM Radio, Inc., No. 8:15-cv-01710-JSM-EAJ (M.D. Fla).  These actions were commenced in February 2012, January 2013, April 2015 and July 2015, respectively, 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, the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois and the United States District Court for the Middle District of Florida, respectively.  Information concerning each of these actions is publicly available in court filings under their docket numbers. 


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.


Since 2013, SIRIUS XM has been named as a defendant in several suits, including putative class action suits, which challenge SIRIUS XM’s use and public performance via satellite radio and the Internet of sound recordings fixed prior to February 15, 1972 under various state laws.  SIRIUS XM has entered into certain direct licenses with certain owners of pre-1972 recordings, which in many cases include releases of any claims associated with our use of pre-1972 recordings.  Several putative class actions suits challenging SIRIUS XM’s use and public performance of other pre-1972 recordings under various state laws remain pending.  SIRIUS XM believes it has substantial defenses to the claims asserted, SIRIUS XM is defending these actions vigorously and does not believe that the resolution of these remaining cases will have a material adverse effect on its business, financial condition or results of operations.


In June 2015, SIRIUS XM settled a suit brought by Capitol Records LLC, Sony Music Entertainment, UMG Recordings, Inc., Warner Music Group Corp. and ABKCO Music & Records, Inc. relating to SIRIUS XM’s use and public performance of pre-1972 recordings for $210 million, which was paid during July 2015. The settling record companies claim to own, control or otherwise have the right to settle with respect to approximately 85% of the pre-1972 recordings SIRIUS XM has historically played. SIRIUS XM has also entered into certain direct licenses with other owners of pre-1972 recordings, which in many cases include releases of any claims associated with its use of pre-1972 recordings.

SIRIUS XM recognized $108 million during June 2015 for the portion of the $210 million Capitol Settlement related to SIRIUS XM’s use of pre-1972 sound recordings for the periods prior to the Capitol Records lawsuit settlement during June 2015. The $108 million expense is included in the Revenue share and royalties line item in the accompanying consolidated financial statements for the year ended December 31, 2015 but has been excluded from Adjusted OIBDA for the corresponding period as this expense was not incurred as a part of the Company’s normal operations for the period, and this lump sum amount does not relate to the on-going performance of the business. SIRIUS XM recognized approximately $19 million to Revenue share and royalties within the consolidated statement of operations with respect to the Capitol Settlement subsequent to the settlement date related to SIRIUS XM’s use of pre-1972 sound recordings during the period and is included as a component of Adjusted OIBDA. Of the remaining $83 million of the settlement, approximately $40 million was recorded to Other current assets and approximately $43 million was recorded to Other long-term assets within the consolidated balance sheets as of December 31, 2015, which will be amortized to Revenue share and royalties within the consolidated statement of operations over the future service period through December 2017.


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 revenue, 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. 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.


These matters are inherently unpredictable and subject to significant uncertainties, many of which are beyond SIRIUS XM’s control. No provision was made for losses to the extent such loses are not probable and estimable. 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.