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Last major VHS supplier ejects from tape biz

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Although closing credits for VHS finished rolling years ago, the once-standard home movie format is just now reaching the very end of its tape. The last major American VHS supplier is ditching the tape biz completely at the end of this year - just over a week away.

For most mainstream retailers, the gig was up shortly after A History of Violence, the last major Hollywood movie to be released on VHS, came out in 2006. Retail space was needed to punt more DVDs, which had steadily been cannibalizing the VHS market once the players became affordable.

But as shops unloaded their unwanted VHS inventory, Florida-based Distribution Video Audio was there to scoop up the refuse and make a tidy profit. Distribution told The LA Times it sold more than four million VHS videotapes during the last two years.

Its clients are mostly bargain stores, outlet malls, truck stops, and mom-and-pop operations - places that don't exactly cater to the bleeding edge of technology. Public libraries, military bases, and cruise ships were also buying VHS tapes, although nowadays are mostly only interested in DVDs.

"It's dead, this is it, this is the last Christmas, without a doubt," Distribution co-owner Ryan Kugler reportedly said. "I was the last one buying VHS and the last one selling it, and I'm done. Anything left in [the] warehouse we'll just give away or throw away."

Goodbye VHS. You outlasted Beta, Laserdisc and RCA's Capacitance Electronic Disc, but it was only a matter of time. Last one to watch that ALF Christmas Special tape, don't forget to rewind on your way out.

Presently, Distribution is biding it's time for the vultures to start circling the DVD format.

"The DVD will be obsolete in three or four years, no doubt about it. Everything will be Blu-ray," said Kugler. "The days of the DVD are numbered. And that is good news to me."

It's good news for big retailers too. Not only because folks will buy fancy new movie players - but because they'll need loads of expensive equipment to see and hear the benefits of newer digital formats.

According to research by LG Electronics the average person in the UK will spend £350 ($516) on home cinema equipment this Christmas.

It's not a push over for the forces of Blu-ray now the Microsoft-backed HD-DVD opposition has crumbled, though. Seventy four per cent of people are confused about the term Blu-ray. The format's punters obviously still have some work to do in pushing the "importance" of high(er)-definition gear on the masses. LG's polled 1,000 people over the age of 16 from England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland. ®

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