Lazarus will oversee policy development and implementation, strategic planning and agency management, the company said.
Tribune CEO Peter Liguori said Lazarus is “the perfect fit as our general counsel and will be a tremendous asset to the company and its media businesses.”
Among other things, Lazarus could help Tribune navigate through issues of media ownership, particularly as the FCC weighs changes that could ease rules on owning TV and radio stations and newspapers in the same market.
Craig Aaron, CEO of consumer group Free Press, criticized the hire in a statement, saying that it was an “unseemly example of FCC regulators cashing in at the companies they were once supposed to regulate.”
Tribune Co. has been pushing for the changes in media ownership rules, with some reports indicating that proposed revisions could help Rupert Murdoch or other media moguls buy the Los Angeles Times or Chicago Tribune. FCC officials have challenged that the proposed changes would do so.
Lazarus succeeds David Eldersveld, who joined Tribune in 2005 and has served as general counsel since 2010. Eldersveld will remain with the company as a special adviser.
From 2009-12 Lazarus was chief of staff at the FCC, where he oversaw many contentious issues, including the crafting of Net neutrality rules and the rollout of a National Broadband Plan.
Before joining the FCC, he was partner and member of the management committee at Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld and was a federal prosecutor in Los Angeles.