Quarterly report pursuant to Section 13 or 15(d)

Commitments and Contingencies

Commitments and Contingencies
6 Months Ended
Jun. 30, 2017
Commitments and Contingencies Disclosure [Abstract]  
Commitments and Contingencies
Commitments and Contingencies 
The following table summarizes our expected contractual cash commitments as of June 30, 2017:


Debt obligations







Cash interest payments







Satellite and transmission







Programming and content







Marketing and distribution







Satellite incentive payments







Operating lease obligations














Total (1)







The table does not include our reserve for uncertain tax positions, which at June 30, 2017 totaled $6,570, as the specific timing of any cash payments cannot be projected with reasonable certainty.
Debt obligations.    Debt obligations include principal payments on outstanding debt and capital lease obligations.
Cash interest payments.    Cash interest payments include interest due on outstanding debt and capital lease payments through maturity.
Satellite and transmission.    During the year ended December 31, 2016, we entered into an agreement with Space Systems/Loral to design and build two satellites, SXM-7 and SXM-8, for our service. We also have entered into agreements with third parties to operate and maintain satellite telemetry, tracking and control facilities and certain components of our terrestrial repeater networks.
Programming and content.    We have entered into various programming agreements. Under the terms of these agreements, our obligations include fixed payments, advertising commitments and revenue sharing arrangements. Our future revenue sharing costs are dependent upon many factors and are difficult to estimate; therefore, they are not included in our minimum contractual cash commitments.
Marketing and distribution.    We have entered into various marketing, sponsorship and distribution agreements to promote our brand and are obligated to make payments to sponsors, retailers, automakers and radio manufacturers under these agreements. Certain programming and content agreements also require us to purchase advertising on properties owned or controlled by the licensors. We also reimburse automakers for certain costs associated with the incorporation of satellite radios into new vehicles they manufacture.
Satellite incentive payments.    Boeing Satellite Systems International, Inc., the manufacturer of certain of our in-orbit satellites, may be entitled to future in-orbit performance payments with respect to XM-3 and XM-4 meeting their fifteen-year design life, which we expect to occur.  Boeing may also be entitled to additional incentive payments up to $10,000 if our XM-4 satellite continues to operate above baseline specifications during the five years beyond the satellite’s fifteen-year design life.
Space Systems/Loral, the manufacturer of certain of our in-orbit satellites, may be entitled to future in-orbit performance payments with respect to XM-5, SIRIUS FM-5 and SIRIUS FM-6 meeting their fifteen-year design life, which we expect to occur.
Operating lease obligations.    We have entered into both cancelable and non-cancelable operating leases for office space, equipment and terrestrial repeaters. These leases provide for minimum lease payments, additional operating expense charges, leasehold improvements and rent escalations that have initial terms ranging from one to fifteen years, 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.
Other.    We have entered into various agreements with third parties for general operating purposes. In addition to the minimum contractual cash commitments described above, we have entered into agreements with other variable cost arrangements. These future costs are dependent upon many factors and are difficult to anticipate; however, these costs may be substantial. We may enter into additional programming, distribution, marketing and other agreements that contain similar variable cost provisions.  The cost of our common stock acquired in our capital return program but not paid for as of June 30, 2017 was also included in this category.
We do not have any other significant off-balance sheet financing arrangements that are reasonably likely to have a material effect on our financial condition, results of operations, liquidity, capital expenditures or capital resources.
Legal Proceedings
In the ordinary course of business, we are a defendant or party to various claims and lawsuits, including those discussed below.
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 liability that has been previously accrued 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 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.

SoundExchange Royalty Claims. In August 2013, SoundExchange, Inc. filed a complaint in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia alleging that we underpaid royalties for statutory licenses in violation of the regulations established by the Copyright Royalty Board for the 2007-2012 period. SoundExchange principally alleges that we improperly reduced our gross revenues applicable to royalties by improperly deducting revenue attributable to pre-1972 recordings and Premier package revenue that is not “separately charged” as required by the regulations. We believe that we properly applied the gross revenue exclusions contained in the regulations established by the Copyright Royalty Board. SoundExchange is seeking compensatory damages of not less than $50,000 and up to $100,000 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, in response to our motion to dismiss the complaint, stayed the case on the grounds that it properly should be pursued in the first instance before the Copyright Royalty Board rather than the District Court.  In its opinion, the District Court concluded that the gross revenue exclusions in the regulations established by the Copyright Royalty Board for the 2007-2012 period were ambiguous and did not, on their face, make clear whether our royalty calculation approaches were permissible under the regulations. In December 2014, SoundExchange filed a petition with the Copyright Royalty Board requesting an order interpreting the applicable regulations.

On January 10, 2017, the Copyright Royalty Board issued a ruling concluding that we correctly interpreted the revenue exclusions applicable to pre-1972 recordings, but in certain cases did not apply those exclusions properly. The ruling further indicated that we improperly claimed a revenue exclusion based on our Premier package upcharge, because, in the Judges’ view, the portion of the package that contained programming that did not include sound recordings was not offered for a “separate charge” in accordance with the regulations. On March 9, 2017, the Copyright Royalty Board issued an order withdrawing its January 10, 2017 ruling in its entirety and requesting that the parties submit briefs addressing certain jurisdictional issues related to this proceeding.

Rulings by the Copyright Royalty Board are subject to limited legal review by the Register of Copyrights. We expect that any ruling by the Copyright Royalty Board in this matter (and any potential review by the Register of Copyrights) will be transmitted back to the District Court for further proceedings, such as adjudication claims relating to damages and defenses. We believe we have substantial defenses to SoundExchange claims that can be asserted, including in proceedings in the District Court, and will continue to defend this action vigorously.

This matter is titled SoundExchange, Inc. v. Sirius XM Radio, Inc., No.13-cv-1290-RJL (D.D.C.), and Determination of Rates and Terms for Preexisting Subscription Services and Satellite Digital Audio Radio Services, United States Copyright Royalty Board, No. 2006-1 CRB DSTRA.  Information concerning the action is publicly available in filings under the docket numbers. This matter is not related to certain claims under state law brought by owners of pre-1972 recording copyrights arising out of our use and performance of those recordings.

At December 31, 2016, we concluded that a loss, in excess of our recorded liabilities, is reasonably possible in connection with the SoundExchange royalty claims. At June 30, 2017, the estimable portion of such possible loss continues to range from $0 to $70,000, plus any related interest or late fees. Based on our defenses, such a loss is not considered probable at this time and no liability for such additional loss has been recorded. The matters underlying this estimated range and the estimable portion of reasonably possible losses may change from time to time and the actual possible loss may vary from this estimate.

Other Matters.  In the ordinary course of business, we are a defendant in various other lawsuits and arbitration proceedings, including derivative actions; actions filed by subscribers, both on behalf of themselves and on a class action basis; former employees; parties to contracts or leases; and owners of patents, trademarks, copyrights or other intellectual property.  None of these other matters, in our opinion, is likely to have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition or results of operations.