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FCC's New Hire Targeted Conservative Radio Stations in Writings

The FCC's new chief diversity officer laid out a battle plan two years ago for liberal activists to target conservative talk radio stations, and critics say they are concerned that he now will want to bring back the "Fairness Doctrine." 

Mark Lloyd, who was named the associate general counsel and chief diversity officer at the Federal Communications Commission last month, is under attack for authoring a June 2007 report entitled "The Structural Imbalance of Political Talk Radio" and a subsequent essay, "Forget the Fairness Doctrine." 

Adopted in 1949, the Fairness Doctrine held that broadcasters were obligated to provide opposing points of views on controversial issues of national importance. The policy was halted under the Reagan administration

Lloyd insists he does not support reinstatement of the doctrine, but critics suspect he has a hidden agenda to curtail conservative talk radio. They say Lloyd is the wrong person for his new post.

Seton Motley, director of communications for the Media Research Center, said Lloyd instructed liberals to file complaints against conservative stations in "Forget the Fairness Doctrine."

"What he lays out is a battle plan to use the FCC to threaten stations' licenses with whom they do not agree with politically, and now he's at the FCC waiting to take their calls," Motley told FOXNews.com. "This is not about serving the local interest, it's about political opposition."

Lloyd, who wrote the essay during his tenure at the Center for American Progress, said the rise and influence of Rush Limbaugh and other conservative radio hosts were traced to "relaxed ownership rules" and other pro-business regulation that destroyed localism.

While he said he was not interested in reinstating the Fairness Doctrine, he called for "equal opportunity employment practices," "local engagement" and "license challenges" to rectify the that perceived imbalance. "Nothing in there about the Fairness Doctrine," he wrote.

"The other part of our proposal that gets the 'dittoheads' upset is our suggestion that the commercial radio station owners either play by the rules or pay. In other words, if they don't want to be subject to local criticism of how they are meeting their license obligations, they should pay to support public broadcasters who will operate on behalf of the local community."

In February, a report in the American Spectator said aides to Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Calif., met with FCC staff to discuss ways to re-enact Fairness Doctrine policies and to apply them to the Internet as well. Both the FCC and Waxman's office denied the report.

White House spokesman Ben LaBolt said at the time that President Obama opposed any move to bring back the policy. He reiterated that position to FOXNews.com on Monday.

While Obama continues to oppose the Fairness Doctrine publicly, Lloyd's appointment has some critics worried. Motley said the not-so-subtle move is "frightening."

"You read his essay and he's incessantly attacked Rush Limbaugh," Motley said. "He doesn't like conservative talk -- and now he's an official at the weapon to shut down conservative talk radio."

Lloyd, who declined to be interviewed at length for this story, told FOXNews.com there are "no plans or interest" in reinstating the policy.

The FCC confirmed that stance but refused to address Lloyd's prior statements. 

In a statement, the commission said: "The FCC agenda does not include reinstatement of the Fairness Doctrine or in any way censoring speech based on political views and opinions. ... 

"The FCC's interest in promoting diversity goes back to core principles underlying the First Amendment. Our nation benefits from a vibrant marketplace of ideas representing different points of view. [Lloyd] will help ensure that the communications field is competitive and generates widespread opportunities."

Representatives from media watchdog groups Free Press and Media Matters declined to comment for this story. Officials at the Center for American Progress, the liberal think tank where Lloyd previously worked, also declined repeated requests for comment.

FCC Chairman Julius Genachowksi announced Lloyd's hiring late last month along with two other senior staffers in its Office of Communications Business Opportunities.

"The FCC must ensure that the communications field is competitive, generates widespread opportunities, and is open to new ideas from all sources," Genachowksi said in a statement announcing the hires on July 29. "This exceptionally talented team will collaborate on the policies and legal framework necessary to expand opportunities for women, minorities, and small businesses to participate in the communications marketplace."

Prior to joining the FCC, Lloyd most recently served as vice president for strategic initiatives at the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights/Education Fund, where he specialized in media and telecommunications. Lloyd has also served as an adjunct professor of public policy at Georgetown University's Public Policy Institute and taught communications policy as a visiting professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Lloyd, who worked at NBC and CNN as a broadcast journalist prior to becoming a communications attorney, has also worked as a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress and as general counsel at the Benton Foundation, a nonprofit organization aiming to ensure that media serve the public interest and enhance democracy.