TV Ratingzzzz

Is it time to break up NBC? . . .

The erstwhile House of Hits won the week for the third time in four tries this new season, pounding out a 19.4 ratings average and a 30 percent audience share . . .

CBS was far back at 16.6/26 while ABC, with the help of two World Series games, managed a respectable 16.3/25 for the week ending Oct. 20 . . .

"The Cosby Show" set a new Cosby record with its 49 percent audience share, ratings for ABC's "Moonlighting" also hit a new high and NBC has the largest lead it's ever had after one month of a new season . . .

Up against the Series, NBC's "Golden Girls" dropped to 26th for the week as only "Girls" and ABC's "Growing Pains" of all new series on the networks managed to finish in the Top 30 . . .

Among the anthologies, NBC's "Amazing Stories" tied for 37th, while CBS' "Twilight Zone" and NBC's "Alfred Hitchock Presents" tied for 43rd, with only "Twilight" managing as much as a 25 share . . .

In other highlights, the Country Music Awards on CBS was 21st, CBS' "Promises to Keep" was 23rd; the Miami-New York Jets game on ABC was 24th and CBS' "Thirteen at Dinner" was 52nd . . .

Once again new network series made up the bulk of this week's Final and at This Time of the Year Just Maybe Fatal 13, starting with NBC's "Misfits of Science," which tied with CBS' "Charlie & Co." for 55th, followed in order by CBS' "George Burns Comedy"; ABC's "Mr. Belvedere"; CBS' "Stir Crazy"; and ABC's "Diff'rent Strokes" . . .

Continuing the FAATTOTYJMFT, ABC's "Benson" was 61st, followed by its "Ripley's Believe It or Not!," "Our Family Honor," "Lady Blue" and "Spenser: For Hire"; CBS's "Hometown"; and ABC's "Fall Guy," toes up in 67th and last place . . . Also in the News

After six weeks of negotiating a new contract proved fruitless, ABC News and "20/20" correspondent/senior producer Geraldo Rivera have made an amicable parting of the ways . . .

Rivera said yesterday that he will make his last appearance on the Thursday magazine show at the end of November and then take a three-month trip with his brother to figure out what he wants to do "with the rest of my life" . . .

Both Rivera and ABC News confirmed yesterday that he will probably continue to do free-lance pieces for "20/20" in the future . . .

"I'm 43," Rivera said yesterday, "the same age as "20/20" host Hugh Downs was when he walked away from the 'Today' show and took a long boat trip to Tahiti . . .

"After 2,000 stories, 11 wars on four continents, it's kind of a cumulative process. It's been hard trying to fit my square peg into the round hole of network news" . . . He said his contract had expired around Labor Day and that "we couldn't really agree on some points in the negotiating" . . .

Rivera declined to speculate on whether his departure at this time was connected with the internal warfare earlier this month over a network decision to ax a controversial segment linking the late Marilyn Monroe romantically with the late Robert F. Kennedy . . .

Although he was not connected with production of the segment, the word in the industry was that Rivera was angered over the cancellation . . .

He did, however, have kind words for ABC News president Roone Arledge who, he said yesterday, "gave me my big break, taking me off 'Good Morning America' and putting me on network news. I don't have any hard feelings. We had a gentlemanly handshake on the deal and that's that" . . .

He said that sometime next spring or late winter he plans to "start looking into some of the new forms on TV" and did not rule out a return to network news . . .

In a statement, ABC praised Rivera's "15 years of hard and honorable work with ABC" and wished him well in the future . . .

CBS News anchor Dan Rather yesterday offered a further insight into that odd luncheon between CBS Broadcast Group president Gene Jankowski and "60 Minutes" executive producer Don Hewitt last week, during which Hewitt asked if network management "would entertain the thought of sitting down with me and some of my colleagues to discuss our buying CBS News if it should ever be for sale" . . .

Rather told AP's Fred Rothenberg yesterday that he and Hewitt had met following the memorial service for CBS correspondent Charles Collingwood earlier this month. They talked about reports that CBS Inc. was considering selling some of its properties in the wake of the costly measures it took to ward off Ted Turner's takeover bid . . .

"During our conversation, Don said, 'What if somebody said you could break off CBS News and try to sell it?' We agreed that if that were remotely possible that those of us who care about the independence and integrity of CBS News should be ready to put together as many people who care about this place as possible," Rather said . . .

Rather said he and Hewitt agreed that buying CBS News, which is part of the CBS Broadcast Group, was a virtual impossibility, "but we said at least we ought to find out about it" . . .

During their lunch, Jankowski assured Hewitt that CBS News "is not, never was, and will not be for sale" . . .

Rather said yesterday he also had an independent conversation with top management, "and I was assured and reassured that it was an impossibility. My response was, 'Thank heaven. I'm pleased,' and that ended it. My conversation didn't take more than 100 seconds" . . .

Meanwhile, CBS Inc. announced yesterday that KMOX-TV in St. Louis, which CBS has owned for 30 years, has been put on the market in an effort by CBS to raise capital to finance debt incurred from its stock repurchase earlier this year . . .

(This seems like as good a place as any to state unequivocally that the TV Column is not, never was, and will not be for sale) . . .

Ann Jillian will leave the syndicated "It's a Living" comedy series after the first 22 episodes are completed in December. She and producers couldn't get together on a new contract . . .

A new poll by Louis Harris and Associates indicates that people who watch a lot of TV are more likely to experience headaches, backaches and joint pain than the people who watch little or no TV . . .

Phil Donahue has decided to tape his Friday show Thursday afternoon at Channel 9 after he does his live morning show at 4001 Brandywine St. Guests on the Friday show will include Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) and Washington Post reporters Fred Hiatt and Rick Atkinson . . .

Tickets for the 1 p.m. taping tomorrow can be obtained by calling 364-3760. That's 364-3760 . . .

Ratings were down 16 percent for the first two games of the Kansas City-St. Louis World Series compared with the first two games in last year's San Diego-Detroit Series.

The third outing of NBC's new magazine show, "American Almanac," averaged a 9.5 rating and a 14 percent audience share in Nielsen's Top 10 markets. That included a 6.8/10 on Channel 4 here Monday night . . .

"Television's Greatest Hits," a record album containing TV theme songs from the '50s and '60s, has sold 75,000 copies since August . . .

At today's luncheon of the Republican Congressional Wives Club, media consultant Susan Peterson will give tips on how to appear on TV and how to handle tough questions from reporters . . .