Free Press CEO Craig Aaron is ringing alarm bells today after the broadcast and newspaper power — which just emerged from bankruptcy — hired a new general counsel: Edward Lazarus, who was FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski’s chief of staff, overseeing policy development and implementation, strategic planning, and agency management. “He may be just the latest to take a spin through the revolving door, but that doesn’t make his move any less nauseating,” Aaron says. Public interest advocates are souring on the FCC chief as he leads efforts to relax media ownership rules — including one that Tribune wants that would make it easier for a company to own a TV station and major newspaper in the same community. A proposal Genachowski circulated would put the burden on the FCC to show why it should block a cross-ownership arrangement in the 20 largest markets. That appears to be tailor-made for Rupert Murdoch who has kicked the tires at The Los Angeles Times and Chicago Tribune — two cities where Fox also owns TV stations. Tribune CEO Peter Liguori says that Lazarus “has an incredibly sharp mind, broad legal experience, and he played an important role at the FCC,” adding that he’s “the perfect fit as our general counsel.” Prior to working at the FCC, the Yale Law School grad clerked for Supreme Court Justice Harry Blackmun, was a federal prosecutor in Los Angeles, and chaired the national litigation steering committee for Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld.
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