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Last Blockbuster stores to close

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MERIDIAN, Colo., Nov. 6 (UPI) -- Blockbuster, once the giant of U.S. video rentals, will close its last stores and its DVD-by-mail service by January, its current owner said Wednesday.

Dish Network, which acquired a bankrupt Blockbuster in 2011, said it will continue to use the brand name for some purposes.

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"This is not an easy decision, yet consumer demand is clearly moving to digital distribution of video entertainment," Joseph P. Clayton, Dish president and chief executive officer, said in a statement. "Despite our closing of the physical distribution elements of the business, we continue to see value in the Blockbuster brand, and we expect to leverage that brand as we continue to expand our digital offerings."

The company said about 300 stores are still operating under the Blockbuster name.

Blockbuster by Mail will shut down in mid-December.

Franchised stores and operations will remain open, Dish said.

Blockbuster was founded in 1985 in Dallas by David Cook, who built the company quickly. In 1994, Viacom bought Blockbuster for $8.4 billion.

Blockbuster became the biggest video rental company in Britain by acquiring a British chain. In 2004, the company had 9,000 stores and 60,000 employees.

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Competition from Netflix and Redbox and poor management helped send the company into bankruptcy in 2010. By the time Dish acquired it, Blockbuster was down to 1,700 stores.

Since the acquisition, Blockbuster has closed its operations in Britain and Scandinavia.

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