Commitments and Contingencies
|6 Months Ended
Jun. 30, 2021
|Commitments and Contingencies
(10) 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 (current and former), coaches and executives have entered into long-term employment contracts whereby such individuals' compensation is guaranteed. Amounts due under guaranteed
contracts as of June 30, 2021 aggregated $392 million, which is payable as follows: $172 million in 2021, $63 million in 2022, $54 million in 2023, $48 million in 2024 and $55 million thereafter. In addition to the foregoing amounts, certain players, coaches and executives may earn incentive compensation under the terms of their employment contracts.
On December 13, 2020, Sirius XM Holdings launched its SXM-7 satellite and in-orbit testing of SXM-7 began on January 4, 2021. During in-orbit testing of SXM-7, events occurred which caused failures of certain SXM-7 payload units. The evaluation of SXM-7 concluded that the satellite will not function as intended, which Sirius XM Holdings considered to be a triggering event prompting the assessment as to whether the asset's carrying value of $220 million was recoverable. In determining recoverability of SXM-7, Sirius XM Holdings compared the asset's carrying value to the undiscounted cash flows derived from the satellite. SXM-7 was determined to be a total loss and therefore, the carrying value of the satellite is not recoverable and an impairment charge of $220 million was recorded to impairment, restructuring and acquisition costs in the condensed consolidated statement of operations during the six months ended June 30, 2021. SXM-7 remains in-orbit and has been moved to its assigned orbital location, but is not being used to provide satellite radio service.
Sirius XM Holdings procured insurance for SXM-7 to cover the risks associated with the satellite's launch and first year of in-orbit operation. The aggregate coverage under the insurance policies with respect to SXM-7 is $225 million. Sirius XM Holdings filed insurance claims with the insurers with respect to SXM-7 in May 2021. During the three and six months ended June 30, 2021 Sirius XM Holdings recorded insurance recoveries of $140 million which have been recorded as a reduction to impairment, restructuring and acquisition costs in the condensed consolidated statements of operations. Sirius XM Holdings collected $17 million of insurance recoveries through June 30, 2021 and the remaining $123 million is recorded as a receivable in other current assets in the condensed consolidated balance sheet. At this time, Sirius XM Holdings is unable to reliably estimate the timing and amount of the remaining insurance recoveries and will record the insurance recoveries when they are probable and estimable.
Sirius XM Holdings does not expect its satellite radio service to be impacted by these adverse SXM-7 events. The XM-3 and XM-4 satellites continue to operate and are expected to support Sirius XM Holdings’ satellite radio service for several years. In addition, the XM-5 satellite remains available as an in-orbit spare. The SXM-8 satellite was successfully launched into a geostationary orbit on June 6, 2021 and is expected to be placed into service during the third quarter of 2021 following the completion of in-orbit testing.
Potential Impact of COVID-19
The business operations of Formula 1, the Atlanta Braves and Live Nation initially were largely, if not completely, suspended at the outset of COVID-19, and continue to be impacted. These businesses may be required to hold a smaller number of events than originally planned or may not be able to reschedule previously canceled or postponed events. The 2021 regular baseball season is expected to be comprised of approximately 160 games. Formula 1 has scheduled 23 Events in 2021. These businesses may continue to be precluded from holding events with fans in attendance, or may only be permitted to have a limited number of fans in attendance, for an undetermined period of time, thereby reducing revenue associated with fan attendance. It is also unclear whether and to what extent COVID-19 concerns will impact the use of and/or demand for the entertainment, events and services provided by these businesses and demand for sponsorship and advertising assets, even after the restrictions are lifted. In many cases, the impact of cancelled events, closed venues and reduced attendance will substantially decrease our revenue. Due to these revenue reductions, these businesses have looked to reduce expenses, but may not be able to reduce expenses to the same degree as our decline in revenue, which is expected to adversely affect our results of operations and cash flow.
Restructuring of Sirius XM Holdings’ leases
During the six months ended June 30, 2021, Sirius XM Holdings evaluated its office space needs and, as a result of such analysis, surrendered certain office leases, primarily in New York, New York and Oakland, California. Sirius XM Holdings assessed the recoverability of the carrying value of the operating lease right of use assets related to these locations. Based on that assessment, Sirius XM Holdings recorded impairments aggregating $18 million to reduce the carrying value of the assets to their fair values. Additionally, Sirius XM Holdings accrued expenses of $6 million for which it will not recognize any future economic benefits and wrote off leasehold improvements of $1 million. The fair values of the assets were determined using a discounted cash flow model based on Sirius XM Holdings management's assumptions regarding the ability to sublease the locations and the remaining term of the leases. The total charge of $25 million was recorded to impairment, restructuring and acquisition costs in the condensed consolidated statement of operations for the six months ended June 30, 2021.
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.
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 (“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.
Sirius XM Holdings believes it has substantial defenses to the claims asserted in this action, and intends to defend this action vigorously.
Copyright Royalty Board Proceeding to Determine the Rate for Statutory Webcasting. On June 11, 2021, the Copyright Royalty Board of the Library of Congress (“CRB”) issued its initial determination regarding the royalty rates payable by Sirius XM Holdings under the statutory license by which webcasters perform sound recordings via digital transmission over the internet and make ephemeral (server) copies of those recordings during the five-year period starting January 1, 2021 and ending on December 31, 2025. Because the proceeding focuses on setting statutory rates for non-interactive online music streaming (commonly identified as “webcasting”), the proceeding sets the rates that Pandora pays for statutorily licensed music streaming on its free, ad-supported service (and for the non-interactive music streaming that occurs on its subscription tiers), and that Sirius XM pays for music streaming on its subscription internet radio service.
This proceeding does not set the rates that Sirius XM Holdings pays for its other music offerings (such as its satellite radio or business establishment services) and does not affect the rates Sirius XM Holdings pays music publishers for its services, which are covered under different licenses. The statutory rates set in this proceeding will, however, affect the amount Sirius XM Holdings pays for streaming on Pandora under certain of its direct licenses with sound recording copyright owners (i.e., record companies). The royalty rates under many of those direct licenses, which cover a large majority of the sound recordings that Sirius XM Holdings performs on Pandora, are indexed to the statutory rates established in this proceeding.
Under the terms of the CRB’s decision, the statutory royalty rate in 2021 will be $0.0021 per performance for non-subscription transmissions (such as offered by the Pandora ad-supported business) and $0.0026 per performance for subscription transmissions (such as offered by the Sirius XM internet radio service). The rate for 2020 was $0.0018 per performance for non-subscription transmissions and $0.0024 per performance for subscription transmissions. The rates announced by the CRB in this initial determination for 2021 are an approximate 17% increase in the rates for non-subscription transmissions and an approximate 8% increase in the rates for subscription transmissions, in each case over the rates in effect during 2020. Rates for the remainder of the five-year period are subject to adjustment each year by the CRB to reflect any changes occurring in the cost of living as determined by the most recent Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers.
Once the CRB has provided the Register of Copyrights with sixty days to review the determination for any legal error, the Librarian of Congress will publish the final determination in the Federal Register. The parties will have thirty days from that publication to appeal the decision to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.
Exchange Agreement with Chairman
On July 28, 2021, the Company entered into an exchange agreement, among the Company, John C. Malone (the Chairman of the Board of the Company), and a revocable trust of which Mr. Malone is the sole trustee and beneficiary (the “JM Trust”) (the “Exchange Agreement”), whereby, among other things, Mr. Malone agreed to an arrangement under which his aggregate voting power in the Company would not exceed 49% (the “Target Voting Power”) plus 0.5% (under certain circumstances). As of June 30, 2021, Mr. Malone beneficially owned shares of common stock of the Company constituting approximately 48.6% of the aggregate outstanding voting power of the Company, including approximately 47.5%, 47.6% and 49.0% of the outstanding voting power of the Company’s Liberty Braves common stock, Liberty Formula One common stock and Liberty SiriusXM common stock, respectively.
The Exchange Agreement provides for exchanges by the Company and Mr. Malone or the JM Trust of shares of Series B Liberty SiriusXM common stock, Series B Liberty Braves common stock or Series B Liberty Formula One common stock for shares of Series C Liberty SiriusXM common stock, Series C Liberty Braves common stock or Series C Liberty
Formula One common stock, respectively, in connection with certain events, including (i) any event that would result in a reduction in the outstanding votes of any of the Company’s tracking stock groups (each, a “Group”) or an increase of Mr. Malone’s beneficially-owned voting power in any Group (other than a Voting Power Exchange (as defined below)) (an “Accretive Event”), in each case, such that Mr. Malone’s voting power with respect to such Group would exceed the Target Voting Power plus 0.5%, (ii) from and after the occurrence of any Accretive Event, any event that would result in an increase in the outstanding votes of any Group or a decrease of Mr. Malone’s beneficially-owned voting power in any Group (a “Dilutive Event”), in each case, such that Mr. Malone’s voting power with respect to such Group falls below the Target Voting Power less 0.5%, or (iii) on a quarterly basis or in connection with any annual or special meeting of stockholders, upon request by Mr. Malone or the JM Trust, if Mr. Malone’s aggregate voting power in the Company is less than the Target Voting Power and would continue to be less than the Target Voting Power upon completion of such exchange (a "Voting Power Exchange"). Additionally, the Exchange Agreement contains certain provisions with respect to fundamental events at the Company, meaning any combination, consolidation, merger, exchange offer, split-off, spin-off, rights offering or dividend, in each case, as a result of which holders of Series B common stock of one or more Groups are entitled to receive securities of the Company, securities of another person, property or cash, or a combination thereof.
In connection with an Accretive Event with respect to a Group, Mr. Malone or the JM Trust will be required to exchange with the Company shares of Series B common stock of such Group (“Exchanged Group Series B Shares”) for an equal number of shares of Series C common stock of the same Group so as to maintain Mr. Malone’s voting power with respect to such Group as close as possible to, without exceeding, the Target Voting Power, on the terms and subject to the conditions of the Exchange Agreement. In connection with a Dilutive Event with respect to a Group, Mr. Malone and the JM Trust may exchange with the Company shares of Series C common stock of a Group for an equal number of shares of Series B common stock of the same Group equal to the lesser of (i) the number of shares of Series B common stock of the same Group which would maintain Mr. Malone’s voting power with respect to such Group as close as possible to, without exceeding, the Target Voting Power and (ii) the number of Exchanged Group Series B Shares at such time, on the terms and subject to the conditions of the Exchange Agreement. In a Voting Power Exchange, the Company will be required to exchange with Mr. Malone and the JM Trust shares of Series B common stock of any Group on a one-for-one basis for shares of common stock of the same Group, with the maximum number of shares of Series B common stock to be delivered to Mr. Malone or the JM Trust equal to the number of Exchanged Group Series B Shares at such time that may be delivered without resulting in Mr. Malone’s aggregate voting power in the Company exceeding the Target Voting Power, on the terms and subject to the conditions of the Exchange Agreement.