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Could XM/Sirius Hinge on Tate?

Speculation centers on the Republican in a 3–2 scenario.

One Wall Street analyst who used to work at the commission believes approval of the proposed satellite radio merger may come down to one commissioner: Republican Deborah Taylor Tate.

Stifel Nicolaus & Co. analyst Blair Levin, a former chief of staff at the agency, made the prediction in a note to clients this week.

Chairman Kevin Martin has voiced approval of the deal with certain concessions agreed to by the companies. Levin predicts GOP commissioner Robert McDowell will favor the deal, though Bloomberg quoted a McDowell spokeswoman saying the commissioner hasn’t decided how he will vote.

The two Democrats, Jonathan Adelstein and Michael Copps, haven’t signaled how they would vote; they have generally opposed media consolidation, though the satellite merger is an atypical case.

Levin said Tate may be the swing vote because it’s not clear under what conditions she would approve the proposal.