Now Here's the News

Why, oh, why, TV Column fans, can't the networks learn to get along? . . .

For years, Captain Airwaves has been quietly crisscrossing the country, imploring, cajoling, even, sometimes, begging TV executives to choose the path of good fellowship (see "Network Comity: What's the Situation?" by C. Airwaves, 1979) . . .

Now for gosh sakes, NBC is mad at CBS/Broadcast Group over a newspaper ad! . . .

It's that big, double-half-page ad that CBS ran in The Washington Post yesterday, in The New York Times on Wednesday and in two trade publications, bragging, as first-place winners always do in the late spring, that "The Vote Is In. The Eyes Have It."

The first two paragraphs read: "Every time a viewer elects to tune in -- it's a vote.

"And in 1984-85, for the sixth straight primetime season and the 25th since this comparative measurement began 29 years ago, more Americans voted to spend their time with CBS" . . .

What steamed NBC was the jump in the same sentence from the phrase "primetime season" to "more Americans," which suggested -- to NBC, anyway -- that CBS was claiming that more persons watched prime-time programming on CBS than watched NBC primetime during the just-concluded season . . .

Not so, said NBC. Sure, CBS was seen in more TV households in prime time last season than NBC but more people per household watched NBC programs, meaning that NBC attracted "more Americans" last year than did CBS (are you still with me, TV Column fans?) . . .

NBC cited A.C. Nielsen ratings figures that gave CBS an average prime-time count of 14.37 million TV homes, compared with 13.85 million for NBC and 13.22 million for ABC between Sept. 24, 1984, and April 21, 1985 . . .

But, NBC and Nielsen agreed, the average of total persons watching prime time was 25.25 million for NBC, 23.8 million for CBS and 22.92 million for ABC . . .

(Sure seems to be an unusual number of empty breakfast nooks around town this morning, come to think of it) . . .

George Schweitzer, CBS/Broadcast Group spokesman, yesterday wearily explained that "we originally cleared the ad, routinely, with Nielsen. It wasn't questioned. It's all a point of interpretation. We based the statement on household ratings. I think our run (of the ads) is over but if it isn't, we'll try to fix it to make the statement more explicit . . .

"However, if you want to know the truth, I think you'll find that CBS is the leader in total number of persons when you look at the total day parts, daytime, prime time, sports, all those things" . . .

When NBC noticed what it claimed was a discrepancy, it called Nielsen, and Nielsen, agreeing with NBC's interpretation, notified CBS of the NBC claim . . . Also in the News

Thomas C. Wyman, president of CBS Inc., will be elected to the board of the General Motors Corp. later this month . . .

Dolph Sweet, who starred as crusty but loving police captain Carl Kanisky on NBC's "Gimme a Break," has died of cancer at the age of 64 . . .

Memorial services for Mr. Sweet will be held tomorrow in Van Nuys, Calif. Series costar Nell Carter is expected to deliver a eulogy . . .

The series has been renewed for next season but no decision has been made about replacing his character . . .

Channel 9 management yesterday was continuing talks with negotiators for the American Federation of Radio and Television Artists (AFTRA) union, which represents a unit of about 30 on-air reporters, anchors and assistant directors at the station whose contract expires tonight at midnight . . .

There was some optimism yesterday among unit members that a new agreement can be reached before the deadline . . .

Won't the networks ever learn, TV Column fans? . . .

Totally ignoring Captain Airwaves' longstanding skepticism about the popularity of sports movies on TV (see "The Perils of Primetime: A Warning" by C. Airwaves, 1982) CBS went right ahead a week ago Wednesday and ran a boxing movie called "The Heart of A Champion: The Ray Mancini Story" . . .

It got a 10.6 Nielsen rating and a 17 percent audience share and finished 52nd in last week's ratings, a clear TKO . . .

So what happens? CBS goes right out and runs a ski movie, "Going for the Gold: The Bill Johnson Story" this past Wednesday and it sitzbooms to a bone-chilling 7.6 rating and a 12 share in Nielsen's top 10 markets . . .

Hey! It must be Friday! Here are the early morning network ratings!. . .

ABC's "Good Morning America" continued on the Road to Recovery last week, taking first with a 4.8 Nielsen rating and a 23 percent audience share, compared with NBC's "Today," with a 4.5/22 and "CBS Morning News" at 3.3/16 . . .

And in the evening news races, "CBS Evening News With Dan Rather but Without Bill Moyers" won for the 157th week in a row, averaging an 11.3/23, compared with a 9.5/20 for "NBC Nightly News With Tom Brokaw" and a 9.3/19 for "ABC World News Tonight With Peter Jennings" . . .

Which somehow reminds us: This week's issue of U.S. News & World Report (the one with Rather on the cover) asks "Who Will Control TV?" and cites a Roper Poll of 1,051 people around country, which led Roper to the conclusion that "CBS, the network that conservatives love to hate, seems to be viewed quite positively by the general public" . . .

Asked to rate the job performance of 12 big-name TV newspersons, CBS' semiretired Walter Cronkite was the choice of voters, leading all the rest with an 84 percent "excellent or good" rating, followed by Rather (72), CBS' Mike Wallace (59). ABC's Peter Jennings (58), NBC's Tom Brokaw (54), NBC's Roger Mudd (54), ABC's Barbara Walters (53), ABC's Ted Koppel (46), CBS' Diane Sawyer (40), NBC's Bryant Gumbel (36), PBS' Robert MacNeil (24) and PBS' Jim Lehrer (18) . . .

When Roper asked, "If 10 means competely fair and balanced and 1 means totally unfair and biased, how would you rate the following shows?" "ABC World News Tonight" came out on top with an 8.32 rating, compared with an 8.27 for "CBS Evening News" and a 7.97 for "NBC Nightly News" . . .

The entertainment side of TV took something of a whacking . . .

Asked by Roper, "In terms of your values, how satisfied are you with the entertainment shows on television?" only 8 percent said they were "very satisfied," 43 percent said "moderately satisfied," 31 percent "not too satisfied," 16 percent "not at all satisifed," and 2 percent "don't know" . . .

Sharon Houston, who's been assistant manager there, has been named chief of the CBS News bureau in Atlanta. She replaces Bob Horner, who was recently promoted to vice president, news services . . .

ABC News veteran Bob Clark is taking an early retirement, effective May 14 . . . There'll be a farewell party for Bob at the ABC News Bureau here on the 22nd . . .

Clark joined ABC in 1961 and from 1975 to 1981 was chief correspondent for "Issues and Answers" and also covered the Hill . . .

The metropolitan area mass media committee of the American Association of University Women will present an award May 16 to Channel 5 reporter Angela Robinson "in recognition of excellence" for her feature on "The Black Church in Politics" for "Page Five," the Saturday night public affairs program now called "Capital City Magazine" . . .