Now Here's the News

The CBS mini-series "Kane & Abel" got off to a pretty fair start Sunday night, at least in Nielsen's top 12 markets . . .

K&A averaged a 22.5 rating and a 33 percent audience share during its three hours. That included a 23.4/36 on Channel 9 here . . .

Meanwhile, "Hostage Flight," NBC's two-hour movie on Sunday, averaged a 19.5/29 in the 12 cities, including a winning 24.1/38 on Channel 4 . . .

ABC's live drama between 9 and 11 that evening, "The Execution of Raymond Graham," did only a 9.4/14, including an 8.1/13 on Channel 7 . . .

Saturday night, ABC's Thursday night escapee, "Lady Blue," debuted against "The Golden Girls" and "227" on NBC and averaged just a 9.8/16 in the 12 big markets. In Washington, Dirty Harriet averaged an 8.6/16 on Channel 7 . . .

NBC is another network doing its Christmas Chopping early . . .

The network yesterday confirmed that "Hell Town" and that nice Father Hardstep will help us all celebrate the holiday evening on Dec. 25 and then go up the chimney . . .

"Hell Town," starring Robert Blake, will have had 15 outings by the time it bids adieu, most of them against ABC's "Dynasty" . . .

Yesterday, NBC said "Blake has performed admirably in one of network television's most difficult time periods" . . .

A January replacement will be announced later . . .

The National Labor Relations Board has ordered Channel 7 management to begin bargaining with a unit of the National Association of Broadcast Employees and Technicians (NABET) which was certified by the Board last March following a 14-0 vote Nov. 2, 1984, in favor of the union . . .

The unit is composed of full-time and regular part-time news writers, associate producers, field producers and production assistants in the newsroom at Seven . . .

The NLRB ruled the company had engaged in an unfair labor practice by refusing to bargain since April 17 of this year . . .

A spokesman for WJLA management said yesterday the company expects to appeal the Oct. 31 NLRB ruling, claiming, as it has from the first, that the employes had been intimidated and threatened by supervisors before the November 1984 election . . .

On Friday, five assignment desk employes at Seven voted 5 to 0 to reject membership in another NABET unit that had sought to represent them . . .

Also in the News

Alms talks will continue in Washington starting Sunday evening Nov. 24 on Channel 26 . . . as the public TV station launches still another fund-raising drive . . .

Although the drive continues through Wednesday, Dec. 11, WETA promises that there will be no pledge effort on four nights, including Monday, Wednesday and Thanksgiving next week and again Thursday, Dec. 5 . . .

The station hopes to raise $500,000 and attract 9,000 new members . . .

Highlights include a half-hour special on Nov. 26 called "Comet Halley in Your Lifetime" which will feature viewer call-ins to a visiting Jet Propulsion Laboratory expert. On the final night, there will be a one-hour preview of "The Treasure Houses of Britain," hosted by Lord John Julius Norwich (I suspect we're not addressing his Lordship correctly here, WETA) . . . WETA will air three one-hour specials on the exhibition starting Dec. 18 . . .

NBC has bought one of those $500,000 trucks for Channel 4 news that will enable the station to travel to the scene of a breaking story and then, via satellite, beam back live coverage to the Nebraska Avenue studios . . .

"Old-fashioned" microwave transmission in the area has become increasingly difficult because of competing signals and high-rise construction, so the idea of going 23,500 miles into space and back again makes sense . . .

The WRC truck is pretty much similar to the kind that Channel 7 is featuring in its current "The Similarity Ends Here" promo campaign . . .

Neither Channel 9 nor Five currently has such trucks. During the recent hurricane scare, Nine got a truck from its once and future owners, Gannett Broadcasting in Atlanta . . .

Brit Hume, who covers the Senate for ABC News and anchors the late Saturday night network news, has signed a new four-year contract, which, because of protracted negotiations, comes down to about three years . . .

He was also upped to national correspondent . . .

Production is starting on "Dallas: The Early Years," the long-awaited "prequel" to the CBS series. It's being done by David Jacobs, creator of the original, for Lorimar Productions. Hoyt Axton and David Grant have been signed for the cast, which apparently will not include any of the series regulars (they'd all have to be awfully young, right?) . . .

The three-hour show could be ready for the May sweeps . . .

Channel 5 has purchased a package of 22 movies from Paramount that includes titles like "An Officer and a Gentleman," "48 Hrs.," "Flashdance," "Atlantic City" and "Death on the Nile" . . .

First air date: January 1987 . . .

Speaking of Channel 5, the team of Lindy Spero, vice president for creative services, and art director Hank Zangara won a bronze medal at the 28th annual awards banquet of the International Film and TV Festival in New York last week . . .

Their entry, one of 200 in the station promotion category, was the "40 Years Together" in-house campaign created to mark Five's anniversary last year . . .

Among other winners, an ABC News special about nuclear war, "The Fire Unleashed," was named best TV news program of the year and "The Joy That Kills," a PBS "American Playhouse" drama, was named best TV entertainment program . . .

ABC News' "Nightline," hosted by Ted Koppel, will air a one-hour program Thursday night from the Senate Caucus Room before an audience of congressmen and foreign policy experts who will discuss the Reagan-Gorbachev summit . . .

Georgi Arbatov, of the Soviet Central Committee, will be live via satellite to give his response to President Reagan's speech before a joint session of Congress earlier that night. No other guests have been named . . .

And Finally

A spokesman for CBS News said yesterday that the reason "Face the Nation" offered audio only in its Sunday telecast from Geneva was equipment failure at a ground station in Medley, England, where the signal, relayed by land lines and microwave across Europe, was to have been fed to a satellite . . .

He confirmed, however, that as we reported, the CBS News operation in Geneva did not have a backup satellite at the time. He said CBS obtained access to one yesterday . . .