NEW YORK (AP) - Blockbuster says a bankruptcy judge has approved Dish Network's $228 million offer for the movie-rental chain, paving the way for a combination of the two media companies.
    
Dish, the No. 3 pay-TV provider, won an auction for Blockbuster Inc.'s assets earlier this week. Judge Burton R. Lifland of the U.S. Bankruptcy Court of the Southern District of New York approved the bid on Thursday.
    
Dish says it expects the deal to close in the second quarter.
    
Once the dominant movie-rental chain Blockbuster filed for bankruptcy protection in September after losing money for years as that business declined because customers shifted to Netflix Inc., video on demand and DVD rental kiosks.