FCC Commissioner Deborah Tate is poised to cast the final, deciding vote on the long-pending merger of XM and Sirius Satellite Radio, as both of the agency’s Democrats—Commissioners Michael Copps and Jonathan Adelstein—broke ranks with Republicans Robert McDowell and Chairman Kevin Martin, who have both voted for a draft order that would approve the $7.54 billion transaction with conditions outlined by Martin last month. Copps’ decision to reject the deal came as no surprise as he has long maintained that the merger partners have presented “a really steep climb to demonstrate they are serving the public interest.” Declaring that deliberations on the draft order had gone on “long enough,” Copps said Monday: “I can’t say I have seen [XM and Sirius’s] claims validated.” Adelstein, however, announced late last week that he would consider voting in favor of the merger if the FCC adopts a new set of conditions that are even stricter than those proposed by Martin. Instead of the three-year cap on subscriber rates and 8% educational, public safety and minority channel set-aside proposed by Martin, Adelstein had called for (1) a six-year freeze on subscriber rates, (2) a 25% capacity set-aside for noncommercial educational programming, (3) the installation of high-definition radio chips in satellite radio receivers to enable reception of competitive digital terrestrial stations, and (4) the appointment of an independent outside monitor to ensure compliance with FCC merger conditions. On Wednesday, Adelstein voted against the merger after failing to win support for the tightened conditions, lamenting: “we really missed a great opportunity to reach a bipartisan agreement that would have benefited the American people.” Although Tate has not confirmed which way she is leaning, sources close to Tate indicate that she is working with Martin and McDowell on a tentative agreement to approve the merger that would be contingent on the resolution of enforcement issues that affect both companies.