"The basic principle, known to thieves down through the ages, is that you can sell for less if you steal your product."

So states Metromedia Inc. in a filing with the Federal Communications Commission asking that agency to review its own decision to allow a satellite company to beam the signal of Metromedia's Loss Angeles television station KTTV to cable tevevision operators around the country.

The problem, Metromedia claims, is that the new satellite company, ASN Inc., is collecting $1.60 for every individual cable TV subscriber that will get KTTV'S signal, while KTTV and Metromedia get nothing.

FCC rules clearly state that ASN and other common carriers that transmit local television station signals to cable systems around the country do not have to pay for that right.

But until now, the independent stations around the country that have been chosen most often for retransmission are stations that welcome the cable business. In Atlanta, entrepreneur Ted Turner has even taken to selling national advertising for his local televison station based on the millions of viewers who receive that station via cable around the country.

But unlike those stations, Metromedia doesn't want to be beamed around the country, especially if it isn't going to be paid for it.

What really irked Metromedia was Asn's claim in its promotional literature that it offers "am attractive package of programming at a reasonable price."

"What is the secret of ASN'S ability to sell programs at a reasonable price in this era of rising costs?" asks Metromedia in its filling.

"The answer of course, is that ASN does not bother with the troublesome details like obtaining any right to the programs it sells.

"The startling fact is that the commission has authorized Asn to make a use of KTTV's signal which KTTV itself could not make," the filing continues. "If KTTV wished to further distribute the programs which it has purchased, it would be required to obtain the consent of those from whom it licenses many of its programs."

Those interested in the present FTC attempt to end Formica's trademark protection and classify it as a generic term, like aspirin, might be interested in a litttle history.

In the early 1940s General Mills introduced the first ready-to-eat breakfast cereal made primarily from oats under the trade name "Cheerioats."

But the Quaker Oats company sued General mills for trademark infringement, claiming it had exclusive right to the use of the word "oats" in any cereal name, despite the fact that "oats" had been part of the English language for hundreds of years as the name of a grain.

Quaker won its case, and "Cheerioats" became "Cheerios," and just about everyone lived happily ever after.

Latest candidate for the vacancy on the Commodity Futures Trading Commission is Jerry B. Waters, for 13 years a top aide to former Sen. James B. Pearson [R-Kan.]

Waters is being considered for appointment to a Republican seat recently vacated by CFTC Vice Chairman James M. Stone this week brought in his own Pr man to replace veteran Bill Monahan. He is David M. Rosen, a former reporter who covered Stone when he was Massachusetts insurance commissioner.

Congress can't manage its own energy use, let alone the nation's, consumer advocate Ralph Nader complained after his congress Probe stalked the halls of the Capitol looking for energy waste.

Nader's raiders found congressional secretaries shivering in sweaters in mid-summer, lights blazing in offices in the middle of the night and lightbulbs illuminating vacant hallways and closets.

The electric bill for the Capitol complex, Nader noted, was $6.5 million last year, up from $6.2 million in 1977. The complex used 850 million pounds of steam from government generators, which Congress Probe estimated cost another $4.59 million.

Ice cream and other frozen deserts, including individual ice cream bars and sandwiches, must now carry a full list of ingredients on the label or the wrapper, the food and drug administration said Monday.

The regulation, which had been issued in proposed form months ago, went into effect Sunday, the agency said.

"The ingredient list will allow shoppers to make comparisons among various competing brands and will help consumers avoid ingredients which may cause allergic reactions or other adverse health conditions," said spokeswoman Nancy Glick.

The ingredients must be listed in descending order of predominance, the same way they are on other food labels.

The products covered by the regulation are ice cream, frozen custard, ice milk, sherbert and water ices, as well as products made from the desserts, such as bars and sandwiches.