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Just a few years ago, federal regulators expected television viewers in Denver and elsewhere would be enjoying crisp and clear movie-quality sights and sounds by 1999.
But Denver residents -- along with most Americans -- aren't even close to the home-theater experience that comes with digital television because Denver TV stations haven't made the necessary upgrades.
In the mid-1990s, the Federal Communications Commission decided that the American viewing public had a right to better television with digital television transmission technology. High-definition television with a digital signal was already popular in Japan at the time, and the FCC wanted it in the United States.
The commission, which leases frequencies on the broadcast spectrum to television, radio and cellular companies, also realized that digital television used less of that precious broadcast commodity. If TV stations converted their old analog equipment -- considered a bandwidth hog -- it would …