We were the first source – FCC Commissioner Deborah Taylor Tate is a Republican and usually seems to prefer as hands-off a stance as is possible when private business affairs, such as the proposed merger between XM and Sirius, are concerned. On the other hand, she is from Tennessee, which is home to Nashville, which makes broadcasting and music big businesses in her state. And broadcasters are very much opposed to the merger. We said as much yesterday, and now The Deal is noting the same possibility. That publication offers an additional point to ponder: the fact that Tate may wish to curry favor with Senate Democrats and oppose the deal, thus improving her chances to earn her first full term on the Commission. She, along with Jonathan Adelstein (D), have nominations pending before that body. But The Deal also notes that she’d pay the price of bucking the White House and DOJ to court Senate Democrats.
RBR/TVBR observation: We tend to doubt that Tate will make any attempt whatsoever to hang her nomination on this one vote. Like many communications issues, this won’t necessarily divide strictly along party lines on Capitol Hill – after all, if you wish to see this as broadcast v. satellite, the dispute is between two business sectors. Democrats may tend to oppose on grounds of protecting consumers from a monopoly, and Republicans may tend to support on free market grounds. But the overlap is there. We think Tate’s vote will come down a choice between her free market tendencies and the strength of the arguments against the merger from her friends in broadcasting.