The one-time aide to the late Sen. Strom Thurmond made his name in Washington when he was senior counsel to the House Energy and Commerce Committee and helped to pass the Telecommunications Act of 1996, which relaxed government regulation of cable rates. He left to work for a cell phone company before Murdoch recruited him in 2001. Since becoming chief lobbyist in 2004, he has been Rupert’s go-to guy for Washington and political affairs. Here’s the release outlining his new responsibilities:

NEW YORK, NY – February 13, 2012 – News Corporation today announced it has consolidated its global government affairs activities under Michael Regan, Executive Vice President of Government Affairs, effective immediately. Mr. Regan has run the Company’s Washington, D.C. operations since 2001.

As part of the new structure, Frederic Michel is being promoted to the newly-created role of Senior Vice President of Government Affairs and Public Policy for Europe. In this capacity, Mr. Michel will lead regulatory and public policy efforts for News Corporation and its broad portfolio of businesses operating across Europe, reporting to Mr. Regan. Mr. Michel, who has most recently been Director of Public Affairs for Europe, will head the Company’s new Brussels-based operation. Prior to joining News Corporation, Mr. Michel was Founding Director of the international think tank Policy Network.

As part of the new structure, Joe Welch, Senior Vice President of Government Affairs for Asia, will report to Mr. Regan. Mr. Welch, who will continue to be based in Hong Kong, has been with the Company since 2005 and oversees public policy and regulatory advocacy for News Corp. business units across the region. Previously, he served as MCI WorldCom’s Asia Director of Government Affairs and earlier was an attorney at the Federal Communications Commission in Washington, D.C.

Commenting on the new structure, James Murdoch, Deputy Chief Operating Officer and Chairman and CEO of International said: “This move will ensure that we have a clear, coordinated focus on legislative and regulatory issues across all the territories in which we operate, led by a very experienced team. It makes perfect sense as we continue to navigate the challenges facing the media industry on a global scale. It also underscores our ongoing commitment to the continued international growth of our businesses.”