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The real power is the licensing.|
All licenses issued by the FCC are done so for TV and radio station that wish to operate in the public interest. So the fines they place on stations are minor compared to the damage they can do by refusing to renew an FCC license. If you own a bunch of transmitters, towers, and talent under contract, and the FCC won't let you broadcast, then your investment is lost. You cannot sell at a good profit, and no one will want to buy except at distressed prices. A transmitter that can't be switched on is a very large and expensive paper weight.
On Wednesday morning on September 13, 2001, the FCC in voluntary cooperation with local stations, local cable operators, and military authorities, allowed official broadcasting of hourly updates from the basement of the Pentagon. The format was sort of like a "Today" show and the set was less fancy, but the anchors, a man and woman whom I had never seen before, delivered the news in a friendly and calm way from chairs without desks in front of them. They made it seem natural and helpful that they were breaking in to network news coverage to provide official information. When they finished their update at the top of the hour, Dan Rather began again, and he re-capped the news that CBS News was broadcasting. It was an interesting time in America.