The Senate Commerce Committee has set a Dec. 13 as the date for the FCC nomination hearing for Republican Deborah Tate and re-nomination hearing for Democrat Michael Copps.
Commission Kathleen Abernathy has said she is leaving Dec. 9, which would mean that, if Tate is confirmed and a full Senate vote held the 14th, there would still be a two-two Democrat and Republican split for the Dec. 15 meeting, only with Abernathy replaced by Tate.
Tate, who was appointed to a six-year term as a director--and one year as chairman--of the Tennessee Regulatory Authority (TRA) in February 2002, is no stranger to the FCC. In December 2003, Powell named her to the FCC's Federal-State Joint Conference on Advanced Telecommunications Services. Tate has been active on the voice over internet protocol front (VOIP), weighing in at the FCC in her capacity as chairman of the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners (NARUC) Washington Action Committee. Tate's resume includes legal counsel former Tennessee Governor Lamar Alexander and assistant to former governor Don Sundquist, who appointed her to the TRA. Clearly, her wheelhouse is telco matters, but she is said to be sufficiently free market to get the nod of broadcasters, according to one influentional former broadcaster and regulator.Copps has been on the commission since May of 2001 and has proven to be an outspoken voice for for greater public interest obligations for broadcasters and more scrutiny of media mergers.