Now Here's the News

Correspondent Susan Spencer yesterday reached a verbal agreement with CBS News for a new, four-year contract . . .

Spencer, who is currently covering the medical beat out of the CBS News bureau here and is part of the Sunday "Evening News" anchor rotation, had been actively wooed by both NBC and ABC for several months . . .

Yesterday she refused to discuss precisely what the other networks had offered if she left CBS but said she was "flattered" . . .

Spencer came to CBS from WCCO in Minneapolis in 1977 . . .

Frequently assigned to major political stories, she covered the Mondale campaign last year and Sen. Edward Kennedy's 1980 campaign . . .

And some more good news from CBS News, where recent budget cuts have left a lot of bitterness: CBS' first-ever TV news anchorman, Douglas Edwards, has signed a new five-year contract . . .

Senior correspondent Edwards, who currently anchors the noon TV news for the network and does three daily radio programs, will complete his 43rd year with CBS in December . . .

He has been anchoring a news program without a break on the network since Aug. 15, 1948, when "Douglas Edwards With the News," which eventually became "CBS Evening News," first aired . . .

Some five years ago, Edwards was approached by Cable News Network to become its principal anchor when it went on the air. He declined, a demonstration of loyalty at the time that CBS management obviously hasn't forgotten . . . Moving Right Along

Seen lunching at Mel Krupin's yesterday: ABC News Bureau Chief George Watson and Lark McCarthy, one of the victims of CBS News' latest budget-cutting frenzy . . .

Does the news that Howard Cosell won't be a part of ABC's World Series coverage really surprise anybody? . . .

The ABC Sports division, from the top down, didn't appreciate the unkind words Howard had for President Roone Arledge, Senior Vice President Jim Spence, Cosell's Monday Night Football mates and others in the recently published "I Never Played the Game," which he coauthored with Pete Bonventre, producer of Cosell's "SportsBeat" program . . .

The coup de gra ce was ordered by Arledge but it was delivered by Spence, who apparently boxed Cosell in by offering him only a spot hosting the pregame shows for the Series . . .

Cosell turned the offer down . . .

Spence said late yesterday that "we decided we wanted to have him host the pregame show. Howard felt he should not be on the Series at all" . . .

Spence confirmed that "there were a number of factors in the decision" not to add Cosell to the key Series broadcasting team of Al Michaels and Jim Palmer . . .

"The book was part of the decision," said Spence. "Just so we're clear on the book, what I'm referring to is that it was our feeling that his comments in the book that related to an announcer Michaels he would have had to work with" ruled Cosell out . . .

Spence confirmed that the decision to put Cosell on the pregame show was Arledge's.

The series gets under way Oct. 19 on ABC. The third man -- who would have been Cosell in the Old Days -- hasn't been picked . . .

Cosell's vitriolic memoirs received an unusual amount of attention for a book of that genre when TV Guide, with a circulation of 17 million-plus, featured excerpts thereof in its Sept. 28 and Oct. 5 issues . . .

Missing from the excerpts -- as Cosell should have expected -- were some of the more thoughtful conclusions he's reached about greedy sports owners and other abuses in big-time athletics over his broadcasting career. . .

That's a career that may well be over. He no longer does football, baseball or boxing for the network and there's a good chance that his widely acclaimed but low-rated "SportsBeat" Sunday show is headed for cancellation . . .

We understand that Channel 56 (WNVC in Fairfax) is one of "a handful" of noncommercial TV and FM radio stations that are under investigation by the Federal Communications Commission since the agency received complaints they're selling advertising that goes beyond the "enchanced underwriting" permitted by FCC rules . . .

The agency authorizes noncommercial stations to carry those familiar blurbs that say "this program is made possible by a grant from X company, baker of quality pies" . . .

But much beyond that ("Have you tried Mom's Apple Pie, lately?"), "enchanced underwriting" is not supposed to go . . .

Our sources suggest some of the "advertising" that may, inadvertently or not, have been aired on Channel 56, could be contained in the several foreign language broadcasts the public TV station airs . . .

A spokesman for the FCC yesterday would not comment on the probe but said that "in each instance, it appears we're talking about a possible first offense, if any, and at worst would probably result in a warning" . . .

More serious violations could result in financial penalties, the FCC spokesman said . . . WNVC officials were unavailable for comment yesterday . . . And Finally

ABC "Nightline" anchor Ted Koppel is due to receive the "Broadcaster of the Year" award today in New York from the International Radio and Television Society . . .