Morning Media Newsfeed: Blockbuster Stores Done | Vargas Goes to Rehab | Star-Telegram Layoffs

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Blockbuster, Outdone by Netflix, Will Shut Its Stores And DVD Mail Service (NYT)
Blockbuster, which had more than 9,000 retail stores across America just nine years ago, is closing the few hundred video-rental stores that it still has, the company’s owner, Dish Network, said on Wednesday in a bittersweet but long-expected announcement. Dish, which acquired Blockbuster through a bankruptcy auction in 2011, after the retailer had already been crushed by digital video distributors like Netflix, said it still saw value in the brand name and would use it in limited ways. But it will close all Blockbuster locations — it says there are about 300 left — and the distribution centers that support its DVD-by-mail service, which is also being dismantled. Ad Age / Media News “This is not an easy decision, yet consumer demand is clearly moving to digital distribution of video entertainment,” Dish CEO Joseph Clayton said in the statement. “We continue to see value in the Blockbuster brand, and we expect to leverage that brand as we continue to expand our digital offerings.” LA Times / Company Town Founded in 1985, at its peak Blockbuster had close to 10,000 stores. It put smaller retailers out of business and gobbled up bigger competitors. In 1994, Viacom acquired Blockbuster and later spun it off in 2004.

ABC’s Elizabeth Vargas in Rehab for Alcohol Abuse (TVNewser)
Elizabeth Vargas, 20/20 co-anchor, is in a treatment facility for alcohol abuse, the NY Daily News reports. “Like so many people, I am dealing with addiction,” Vargas says in a statement. “I realized I was becoming increasingly dependent on alcohol, and feel fortunate to have recognized it for the problem it was becoming. I am in treatment and am so thankful for the love and support of my family, friends and colleagues at ABC News.” New York Daily News / Confidential When the senior staff at the Disney-owned network had begun whispering about her whereabouts, they were officially told that she was on “medical leave,” but many suspected she had been getting help for an alcohol problem and would be returning soon.

Fort Worth Star-Telegram Cuts 275 Jobs, Outsources Printing to Morning News (Dallas Business Journal)
The Fort Worth Star-Telegram will cut about 275 jobs as it outsources its printing and packaging to the Dallas Morning News’ printing plant in Plano, the Dallas Morning News reported. The arrangement will start in the first quarter of 2014. The Star-Telegram, owned by The McClatchy Company, based in Sacramento, will cut 75 full-time and 200 part-time jobs and the employees are eligible for severance pay and benefits. “This makes all the sense in the world,” said Jim Moroney, publisher and chief executive of the News and chairman, president and CEO of its parent company, A.H. Belo Corporation. In market after market across the country where there is geographic proximity, Moroney said, newspapers have been consolidating their printing operations to save money.

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Time Inc. Spin-Off Gets Delayed to Next Year (TheWrap)
Time Warner is delaying its planned spin-off of Time Inc., the company told investors Wednesday. The publishing unit, which has been a drag on the media conglomerate’s profits, was originally supposed to be spun off into a separate company in 2013. That date was later amended to be in the first quarter of 2014. Now, Time Warner CEO Jeff Bewkes said the company is on track to complete the spin-off by the second fiscal quarter of next year.

The Cost of Winning: Tim Armstrong, Patch And The Struggle to Save AOL (Business Insider)
On an overcast Friday afternoon last August, a hundred or so employees of AOL’s local news subsidiary, Patch, crammed into a cafeteria at the company’s headquarters in Manhattan. Another several hundred connected to the room via conference call. They were waiting to hear CEO Tim Armstrong deliver bad news.