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AOL debuts Teen Channel

The giant online service introduces an area devoted to teenagers, one of its biggest and most loyal audiences.

America Online (AOL) today debuted its Teen Channel, an area that caters to perhaps AOL's most loyal and active customers.

The area will be filled with the pop culture content that teens crave. Features will focus on movies, celebrities, books, fashion, dating, and--yes--even parents.

The channel also will feature a new magazine to debut Friday, called Teen People, by Time Warner. As previously reported, Teen People will be sold at newsstands and will only be found online at AOL, an exclusive deal the companies announced in November.

The deal underscores just how popular AOL is with the teen crowd. Visit a chat room at any time of day, any day of the week, and it will immediately become apparent just how many teenagers frequent the service.

The channel also will include programming from Seventeen magazine, among others.

Teen People will have a simultaneous paper and online launch date on Friday. The online version will include not only written content from the paper version, but also celebrity chat sessions, downloadable photographs, audio and video clips, and even "virtual makeovers" by the magazine's fashion editors, according to AOL.

The simultaneous release of the products is yet another indicator of how the lines between print and online media are blurring, with companies seeking the best market for their product, whether on- or offline.

"AOL created the Teen Channel because it has become increasingly evident how fast this segment of our population, the generation that is literally growing up with computers, is becoming one of the most important demographics to watch in this industry," Bob Pittman, president and chief executive of AOL Networks, said in a statement. "AOL's offerings are hugely popular with teens. By bringing their favorite AOL places together in one place, we expect the AOL Teen Channel to become the new 'in' spot for the millions teens who access the Internet today."

Sources have said financial terms call for AOL to pay Time Warner under the agreement.