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Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

Sinclair Broadcast Group agreed to pay a record $48 million to settle three Federal Communications Commission investigations into its practices, the agency said Wednesday.

Why it matters: Despite the big penalty, the conservative-leaning broadcaster will keep its licenses after accusations the company misled regulators in its failed bid to buy Tribune Media.

Details: The settlement closes an investigation into whether the broadcaster was upfront regarding its plans for stations it planned to sell in order to obtain regulatory approval for the would-be Tribune merger.

  • Tribune called off the deal after FCC Chairman Ajit Pai raised questions about whether Sinclair would still control the stations it proposed spinning off in the side deals.
  • The FCC's settlement also resolves investigations into whether Sinclair failed to identify sponsored content suppled to television stations and if it acted in good faith during negotiations with pay-TV providers to air its programming.

What they're saying: Pai said he disagrees with those who "for transparently political reasons," wanted to see Sinclair's licenses revoked, saying in a statement "the First Amendment still applies around here.” 

  • “Sinclair’s conduct during its attempt to merge with Tribune was completely unacceptable,” Pai said in the statement. “Today’s penalty, along with the failure of the Sinclair/Tribune transaction, should serve as a cautionary tale to other licensees seeking commission approval of a transaction in the future."
  • Sinclair CEO Chris Ripley said in a statement tweeted by the company that the broadcaster is pleased to move forward and that it is "committed to continue to interact constructively with all of its regulators."

Go deeper

Dozens of local stations blacked out for Dish customers amid pandemic

Dozens of local news and sports stations across the country are blacked out for customers of satellite TV giant Dish Network after it failed to renegotiate programming fee agreements with the station owners.

Why it matters: Dish is known for being a shrewd negotiator when it comes to hashing out fees with station owners. But its recent slew of local blackouts is creating an enormous local news draught for many communities during the pandemic.

The rebellion against Silicon Valley (the place)

Photo illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios. Smith Collection/Gado via Getty Images

Silicon Valley may be a "state of mind," but it's also very much a real enclave in Northern California. Now, a growing faction of the tech industry is boycotting it.

Why it matters: The Bay Area is facing for the first time the prospect of losing its crown as the top destination for tech workers and startups — which could have an economic impact on the region and force it to reckon with its local issues.

Erica Pandey, author of @Work
1 hour ago - Economy & Business

Telework's tax mess

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

As teleworkers flit from city to city, they're creating a huge tax mess.

Why it matters: Our tax laws aren't built for telecommuting, and this new way of working could have dire implications for city and state budgets.