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TEEN VOGUE TO BECOME BIMONTHLY

NEW YORK -- Conde Nast will convert Teen Vogue, the youth-driven offshoot of Vogue, into a bimonthly publication starting in February 2003.<P>The magazine, which has published four test issues since its debut in 2000, will have a rate base of...

NEW YORK — Conde Nast will convert Teen Vogue, the youth-driven offshoot of Vogue, into a bimonthly publication starting in February 2003.

The magazine, which has published four test issues since its debut in 2000, will have a rate base of 450,000, the company said Thursday.

Amy Astley, the magazine’s editor, will become its editor in chief, and Anna Wintour, Vogue’s editor in chief, will serve as its editorial director. Astley, who had also previously served as Vogue’s beauty director, will now leave Vogue and be succeeded by Sarah Brown, who currently is the magazine’s beauty editor. The Vogue Index section, which had previously been edited by Astley, will now be edited by Meredith Melling Burke, Vogue’s market editor.

The relaunch of Teen Vogue will make for an even more crowded marketplace in a category that has grown exponentially in the last few years. Cosmopolitan, Elle and People have all launched teenage offshoots, with Teen People having emerged as the leader in the group.

The announcement from Teen Vogue came as some surprise to those in the industry. In March, Vogue publisher Tom Florio gave a less than ringing endorsement of the venture in a WWD interview, and S.I. Newhouse, head of Conde Nast owner Advance (which also owns WWD), is still said to be keen on purchasing Seventeen, the industry leader, from its financially strapped owner, Primedia. It could not be determined whether the talks with Primedia had stalled or whether, as sources at Primedia speculated, Thursday’s announcement was part of an attempt to wrangle a better deal for Seventeen. Newhouse’s spokesman declined comment.

Teen Vogue’s first four test issues were less than a smashing success, with some criticizing its art direction and content — heavily borrowed from Vogue’s format and staff — as overly sophisticated for a teen readership. The magazine is not registered with the Audit Bureau of Circulations, but Conde Nast shipped 200,000 copies to newsstands of each of the two 2001 issues, although fewer sold, according to reports in Media Industry Newsletter.

CosmoGIRL!, by comparison, had a rate base of 750,000 and sold an average of 380,214 copies on newsstands during the final six months of 2001, according to the publisher’s statement filed with the Audit Bureau of Circulations. It has since raised its rate base to 1,000,000.