Commitments and Contingencies
|3 Months Ended
Mar. 31, 2022
|Commitments and Contingencies Disclosure [Abstract]
|Commitments and Contingencies
Commitments and Contingencies
The following table summarizes our expected contractual cash commitments as of March 31, 2022:
(1)The table does not include our reserve for uncertain tax positions, which at March 31, 2022 totaled $33.
Debt obligations. Debt obligations include principal payments on outstanding debt and finance lease obligations.
Cash interest payments. Cash interest payments include interest due on outstanding debt and capital lease payments through maturity.
Satellite and transmission. We have entered into agreements with third parties to design, build and launch two new satellites, SXM-9 and SXM-10. 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 and content agreements. Under the terms of these agreements, our obligations include fixed payments, advertising commitments and revenue sharing arrangements. In certain of these agreements, the 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.
Sales and marketing. We have entered into various marketing, sponsorship and distribution agreements to promote our brands and are obligated to make payments to sponsors, retailers, automakers, radio manufacturers and other third parties under these agreements. Certain programming and content agreements also require us to purchase advertising on properties owned or controlled by the licensors.
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 upon XM-4 meeting its fifteen-year design life. Boeing may also be entitled to up to $10 of additional incentive payments if our XM-4 satellite continues to operate above baseline specifications during the five years beyond the satellite’s fifteen-year design life.
Maxar Technologies (formerly Space Systems/Loral), the manufacturer of certain of our in-orbit satellites, may be entitled to future in-orbit performance payments upon XM-5, SIRIUS FM-5, SIRIUS FM-6, and SXM-8 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, terrestrial repeaters, data centers and equipment. These leases provide for minimum lease payments, additional operating expense charges, leasehold improvements and rent escalations that have initial terms ranging from to fifteen years, and certain leases have options to renew.
Royalties, Minimum Guarantees and Other. We have entered into music royalty arrangements that include fixed payments. Certain of our content agreements also contain minimum guarantees. During the three months ended March 31, 2022, we prepaid $7 in content costs related to minimum guarantees. As of March 31, 2022, we had future fixed minimum guarantee commitments of $328, of which $11 will be paid in 2022 and the remainder will be paid thereafter. On a quarterly basis, we record the greater of the cumulative actual content costs incurred or the cumulative minimum guarantee based on forecasted usage for the minimum guarantee period. The minimum guarantee period is the period of time that the minimum guarantee relates to, as specified in each agreement, which may be annual or a longer period. The cumulative minimum guarantee, based on forecasted usage, considers factors such as listening hours, revenue, subscribers and other terms of each agreement that impact our expected attainment or recoupment of the minimum guarantees based on the relative attribution method.
Several of our content agreements also include provisions related to the royalty payments and structures of those agreements relative to other content licensing arrangements, which, if triggered, cause our payments under those agreements to escalate. In addition, record labels, publishers and performing rights organizations (“PROs”) with whom we have entered into direct license agreements have the right to audit our content payments, and such audits often result in disputes over whether we have paid the proper content costs.
We have also entered into various agreements with third parties for general operating purposes. The cost of our common stock acquired in our capital return program but not paid for as of March 31, 2022 was also included in this category.
In addition to the minimum contractual cash commitments described above, we have entered into 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. 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.
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 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 the likelihood or magnitude of a possible eventual loss, if any.
Pre-1972 Sound Recording Litigation. On October 2, 2014, Flo & Eddie Inc. filed a class action suit against Pandora in the federal district court for the Central District of California. The complaint alleges a violation of California Civil Code Section 980, unfair competition, misappropriation and conversion in connection with the public performance of sound recordings recorded prior to February 15, 1972 (which we refer to as, “pre-1972 recordings”). On December 19, 2014, Pandora filed a motion to strike the complaint pursuant to California’s Anti-Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation (“Anti-SLAPP”) statute, which following denial of Pandora’s motion was appealed to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. In March 2017, the Ninth Circuit requested certification to the California Supreme Court on the substantive legal questions. The California Supreme Court accepted certification. In May 2019, the California Supreme Court issued an order dismissing consideration of the certified questions on the basis that, following the enactment of the Orrin G. Hatch-Bob Goodlatte Music Modernization Act, Pub. L. No. 115-264, 132 Stat. 3676 (2018) (the “MMA”), resolution of the questions posed by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals was no longer “necessary to . . . settle an important question of law.”
The MMA grants a potential federal preemption defense to the claims asserted in the aforementioned lawsuits. In July 2019, Pandora took steps to avail itself of this preemption defense, including making the required payments under the MMA for certain of its uses of pre-1972 recordings. Based on the federal preemption contained in the MMA (along with other considerations), Pandora asked the Ninth Circuit to order the dismissal of the Flo & Eddie, Inc. v. Pandora Media, Inc. case. On October 17, 2019, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals issued a memorandum disposition concluding that the question of whether the MMA preempts Flo and Eddie's claims challenging Pandora's performance of pre-1972 recordings “depends on various unanswered factual questions” and remanded the case to the District Court for further proceedings.
In October 2020, the District Court denied Pandora’s renewed motion to dismiss the case under California’s anti-SLAPP statute, finding the case no longer qualified for anti-SLAPP due to intervening changes in the law, and denied Pandora’s renewed attempt to end the case. Alternatively, the District Court ruled that the preemption defense likely did not apply to Flo & Eddie’s claims, in part because the District Court believed that the MMA did not apply retroactively. Pandora promptly appealed the District Court’s decision to the Ninth Circuit, and moved to stay appellate briefing pending the appeal of a related case against Sirius XM. On January 13, 2021, the Ninth Circuit issued an order granting the stay of appellate proceedings pending the resolution of a related case against Sirius XM.
On August 23, 2021, the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit issued an Opinion in a related case, Flo & Eddie Inc. v. Sirius XM Radio Inc. The related case also concerned a class action suit brought by Flo & Eddie Inc. regarding the public performance of pre-1972 recordings under California law. Relying on California’s copyright statute, Flo & Eddie argued that California law gave it the “exclusive ownership” of its pre-1972 songs, including the right of public performance. The Ninth Circuit reversed the District Court’s grant of partial summary judgment to Flo & Eddie Inc. The Ninth Circuit held that the District Court in this related case erred in concluding that “exclusive ownership” under California’s copyright statute included the right of public performance. The Ninth Circuit remanded the case for entry of judgment consistent with the terms of the parties’ contingent settlement agreement, and on October 6, 2021, the parties to the related case stipulated to its dismissal with prejudice.
Following issuance of the Flo & Eddie Inc. v. Sirius XM Radio Inc. opinion, on September 3, 2021, the Ninth Circuit lifted the stay of appellate proceedings in Flo & Eddie, Inc. v. Pandora Media, LLC. The Flo & Eddie Inc. v. Sirius XM Radio Inc. decision is precedential in the Ninth Circuit, and therefore we believe substantially narrows the claims that Flo & Eddie may continue to assert against Pandora. We believe we have substantial defenses to the remaining claims asserted in this action, and we intend to defend this action vigorously.
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.