Annual report pursuant to Section 13 and 15(d)

Commitments and Contingencies

Commitments and Contingencies
12 Months Ended
Dec. 31, 2020
Commitments and Contingencies Disclosure [Abstract]  
Commitments and Contingencies Commitments and Contingencies 
The following table summarizes our expected contractual cash commitments as of December 31, 2020:
  2021 2022 2023 2024 2025 Thereafter Total
Debt obligations $ $ 1,000  $ 842  $ 1,500  $ —  $ 5,250  $ 8,593 
Cash interest payments 389  387  341  329  259  788  2,493 
Satellite and transmission 50  18  79 
Programming and content 382  291  209  156  121  195  1,354 
Sales and marketing 69  20  11  111 
Satellite incentive payments 38  81 
Operating lease obligations 69  68  61  47  45  137  427 
Royalties, minimum guarantees and other 327  205  25  —  —  564 
Total (1)
$ 1,295  $ 1,982  $ 1,501  $ 2,054  $ 439  $ 6,431  $ 13,702 
(1)The table does not include our reserve for uncertain tax positions, which at December 31, 2020 totaled $30.
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 several third parties to design, build, launch and insure two satellites, SXM-7 and SXM-8. 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, which we expect to occur.  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 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, 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 one to fifteen years, and certain leases have options to renew. Total rent recognized in connection with leases for the years ended December 31, 2020, 2019 and 2018 was $73, $75 and $43, respectively.
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 and require that we make upfront minimum guaranteed payments. During the year ended December 31, 2020, we prepaid $5 in content costs related to minimum guarantees. As of December 31, 2020, we had future fixed minimum guarantee commitments of $26, of which $14 will be paid in 2021 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, could 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 any such audit could 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 December 31, 2020 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 also have a surety bond of approximately $45 primarily used as security against non-performance in the normal course of business. 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 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 Music Modernization Act 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.

We believe we have substantial defenses to the claims asserted in this action, and we intend to defend these actions vigorously.

Copyright Royalty Board Proceeding to Determine the Rate for Statutory Webcasting. Pursuant to Sections 112 and 114 of the Copyright Act, the Copyright Royalties Board (the "CRB") initiated a proceeding in January 2019 to set the rates and terms by which webcasters may perform sound recordings via digital transmission over the internet and make ephemeral reproductions of those recordings during the 2021-2025 rate period under the authority of statutory licenses provided under
Sections 112 and 114 of the Copyright Act. We filed a petition to participate in the proceeding on behalf of our Sirius XM and Pandora businesses, as did other webcasters including Google Inc. and the National Association of Broadcasters. SoundExchange, a collective organization that collects and distributes digital performance royalties to artists and copyright holders, represents the various copyright owner participants in the proceeding, including Sony Music Entertainment, Universal Music Group and Warner Music Group. Because the proceeding focuses on setting statutory rates for non-interactive online music streaming (commonly identified as “webcasting”), the proceeding will set the rates that our Pandora business pays for music streaming on its free, ad-supported tier and that our Sirius XM business pays for streaming on its subscription internet radio service. This proceeding will not set the rates that we pay for our other music offerings (satellite radio, business establishment services) or that we pay for interactive streaming on our Pandora Plus and Pandora Premium services.

In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, the multi-week hearing before the Copyright Royalty Judges originally scheduled to begin in Washington, DC in March 2020, was postponed and conducted virtually via videoconference between August 4 and September 9, 2020. Subsequent to the hearing, the parties submitted post-trial briefing and reply briefing. Closing arguments were held in November 2020. The final rates proposed for the 2021-2025 period by Sirius XM, Pandora, and the other webcaster participants are below the existing statutory rates. Specifically, Sirius XM and Pandora proposed rates of $0.0011 per performance for nonsubscription commercial webcasters and $0.0016 per performance for subscription commercial webcasters. SoundExchange proposed increasing the existing statutory rates to $0.0028 per performance for nonsubscription commercial webcasters and $0.0031 per performance for commercial subscription webcasters. Given the delay in the proceeding, the deadline for the CRB to deliver its initial rate determination has been extended to April 15, 2021.

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.