Now Here's the News

First reactions at NBC yesterday to word of the $6.2 billion purchase of parent RCA by the General Electric Co. were positive . . .

One impact on the TV network: With the merger, which will take about a year to conclude, NBC would pick up a sixth owned-and-operated station, KCNC in Denver, now owned by GE . . .

A spokesman for NBC in New York said "everybody is feeling good about it. We'll be a stronger company. GE Chairman John F. Welch went out of his way at his press conference today to say that NBC was doing great and that GE had a history of letting well-run divisions alone" . . .

NBC Chairman Grant Tinker wrote a memo to employes saying the merger is good news since it means RCA, "which has always been supportive and will continue to be, will be even stronger in the future" . . .

Locally, WRC vice president and general manager Fred DeMarco held a staff meeting for top executives at the station. He said the response was "very positive. GE is a good company" . . .

Mary Tyler Moore's new sitcom "Mary" set no ratings record in its Wednesday night premiere on CBS, according to Nielsen overnights in 12 major markets . . .

But it did win its 8-to-8:30 p.m. time slot, beating out the first half-hour of NBC's "Highway to Heaven" and "The Insiders" on ABC with a 19.5 rating and a 30 percent audience share. That includes a 22.5/34 on Channel 9 here . . .

Audiences for "Foley Square," a "Mary" look-alike, fell off at 8:30 in its debut on CBS that night, averaging a 16.7/28 in the 12 markets, including an 18.6/28 on WDVM, which apparently has lots of lawyers watching . . . The falloff enabled "Highway" to win its hour overall . . .

A couple of nervous flutters around NBC News this week when the division learned that NBC Entertainment President Brandon Tartikoff has scheduled a magazine show of his own for a tryout on Friday, Dec. 27 at 10 p.m. . . .

Poor "American Almanac" hadn't even been put into a regular weekly schedule yet when the news came that "Fast Copy," which has been produced by Don Ohlmeyer Communications for the network, is already a possibility for the fall NBC schedule . . .

Tartikoff quickly assured NBC News that "Almanac" was in good standing and in fact that he has decided to put it on the weekly schedule the first week in March (after the important February ratings sweeps are past) . . .

Tartikoff said yesterday he still hasn't decided which weeknight "Almanac" will air but it will have a 10 p.m. time slot . . .

He said "Fast Copy" represents "a Reader's Digest approach to doing an information magazine featuring the best of what are considered the hippest and smartest magazines," much of it set to music videos. It's "extremely fast-paced, back-of-the-book stuff aimed at the 'Miami Vice' audience" . . .

The one-hour pilot will feature 12 stories from as many magazines, including Esquire (whose annual "Dubious Achievement Awards" will be featured); TV Guide; Rolling Stone (Bob Dylan); and Harper's Bazaar (swimsuits) . . . A total of 17 national magazines will participate in the project if it's picked up . . .

Tartikoff said editors from each magazine represented will appear on the show . . .

Vis-a -vis the appearance of a possible second magazine show on the network, Tartikoff said, "I've always thought that there should be room enough in prime time for three magazine shows" . . .

By the way, in scheduling "Fast Copy" at 10 p.m. on a Friday, "Miami Vice" moves to 9 p.m. that night. But it won't be a first-ever head-to-head meeting with "Dallas," rumors of which have been bandied about the industry for some months . . .

That night CBS will air the Kennedy Center Honors from 9 to 11 . . .

As for an eventual regular Friday night contest betweeen "Vice" and "Dallas," Tartikoff said yesterday, "certainly not through February." He added that "Misfits of Science," currently at 9, isn't doing all that badly against the CBS soap and that he was "kind of partial" to "Misfits," anyway . . . Also in the News

Actress Anne Baxter, who played Victoria Cabot on ABC's "Hotel," died yesterday in a Manhattan hospital, eight days after suffering a stroke on Madison Avenue as she walked to her hairdresser's. She was 62 . . .

This week at the Museum of Broadcasting in New York, CBS special correspondent Walter Cronkite has been conducting nightly seminars on television news . . .

After he had concluded his Tuesday program, on the early days of TV news, he opened the seminar to questions . . .

John Lofton, the conservative columnist (who had been recording the seminar), suddenly wanted to know Cronkite's views on nuclear disarmament. At first Cronkite tried to put him off, explaining at one point that the question "requires a 15-minute dissertation to answer you" . . .

As Lofton persisted ("you can't run tonight," he said at one point), Cronkite finally exploded. "You've maligned me seriously to nearly the point of libel," he said. When Lofton continued ("what about free speech?"), Cronkite shouted "SHUT UP!" and went on to the next questioner . . .

At the conclusion of the seminar, Cronkite addressed Lofton again. "You've got my pique," he said. "I apologize" . . .

"I certainly accept," said Lofton . . . Moving Right Along

Talk about a breakthrough in the alms talks: The Wednesday night finale drew $82,307 to push WETA's 14-day drive over its $500,000 goal by another $9,086 . . . and with matching funds still to be reckoned, that total will be even higher . . .

Meanwhile, the Maryland public TV system ended its drive Wednesday night, too, and exceeded its $375,000 goal by $2,184 . . .

Biggest moneymaker for MPT was "Tennessee Ernie Ford's America" . . . while obviously "River Journeys" and the preview of "Treasure Houses of Britain" Wednesday night was WETA's biggest draw . . .

What makes the local alms talks so satisfying: PBS fund drives this December have been off around the country, WNET in New York reportedly falling $500,000 short of a $1.3 million goal recently . . .

Also at Channel 26, the station said yesterday it will air live the NCAA men's soccer championship in Seattle between American University and UCLA tomorrow night starting at 10 p.m. . . .

Channel 9 is looking for a manager of press relations. Deb Baker Hall, current holder of the title, has embarked on maternity leave and plans to take another assignment when she returns to WDVM sometime next year . . . And Finally

ABC News correspondent Ann Compton yesterday was elected to succeed incoming chairman Phil Jones of CBS as head of the executive committee of the Radio and Television Correspondent Galleries in 1987 . . .