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Ex-Powell Aide to Join DirecTV in D.C.

Susan Eid, Federal Communications Commission chairman Michael Powell's top media adviser until last July, has a new job.

Effective Feb. 23, she became head of DirecTV Inc.'s Washington, D.C., office, replacing Merrill Spiegel, a former aide to Rep. Rick Boucher (D-Va.).

Hiring Eid to oversee DirecTV's Washington interests is the first sign that News Corp. chairman Rupert Murdoch wants to maintain some lobbying distance between his new satellite acquisition and his other interests (Fox TV stations, cable networks, Hollywood studio and newspapers).

Eid, who will report to Hughes Electronics Corp. CEO Chase Carey, should be busy from day one now that Congress is revving up to reauthorize the Satellite Home Viewer Improvement Act.

The SHVIA is a prime example of how News Corp.'s far-flung interests can't always be in sync. DirecTV has to decide whether to fight Fox TV-station affiliates on banning satellite importation of distant-network signals into markets where DirecTV and EchoStar Communications Corp.’s Dish Network already provide local stations.

The issue could lead to a strong clash between DirecTV and the National Association of Broadcasters (which Murdoch quit a few years ago over policy disputes).

Eid -- who left the FCC months before the News-Hughes merger was approved -- is no stranger to conflict with the NAB. Her last post prior to joining Powell's team was as top D.C. lobbyist for MediaOne Group Inc. before that MSO was bought out by AT&T Corp.