Now Here's the News

The January issue of Manhattan, inc. -- on the stands next week -- will offer a rare insight into the high finances of the CBS News division . . . including the fact that two days before his Dec. 5 ousting, News President Ed Joyce learned his troops were $10.8 million over budget for 1985 . . . even after his harsh personnel cuts earlier this year . . .

CBS Broadcast Group had allotted the division $267.4 million for the year, $16 million down from election year 1984 . . . Instead, the division will spend $278 million for 1985 . . .

According to a highly confidential "Flash Book" -- a monthly budget report circulated among a few top CBS executives and obtained by the award-winning young New York business magazine -- the 1985 CBS News pie was originally divided among:

"Hard news," which was allocated $188.7 million; "public affairs," which includes "60 Minutes," "West 57th" and documentaries, $35.6 million; "special and unscheduled events, such as natural disasters," $7.1 million; political coverage, $5.1 million; "by-products," including worldwide distribution of shows, $10.9 million; and $30.9 million for staff not employed by specific news programs, including the top executives . . .

The excess expenditures, according to the flash book, were "the result of the Achille Lauro hijacking, severance related to the layoffs, the Mexican earthquake, Colombian volcano disaster, the addition of 'West 57th,' and funding 'Nightwatch' through 1985" . . .

It also cites office-space increases, higher AT&T cable charges, advertising costs and "the hostage crisis" . . .

According to Manhattan, inc., the November "flash" said "hard news" costs were $10.6 million higher than estimated while "public affairs" costs were $2.4 million lower. Increases were partly offset "by savings in '60 Minutes' due to a change in program mix" . . .

A $2.9 million excess for November was blamed for the most part on "American Treasury," a one-minute insert message broadcast weekdays at 3:58 p.m. on the network relating "little known facts from the Library of Congress" . . .

The inhouse report seems to confirm the pressure that Joyce was under from top management in the last months of his regime, before he was replaced by Broadcast Group Executive Vice President Van Gordon Sauter, who returned to the post he had held from 1981-83 . . .

Earlier this fall, Joyce had overseen the firing of 74 employes while some 51 additonal job slots were put on the shelf and a generous early retirement plan from CBS Inc. thinned the ranks of veteran CBS News personnel considered valuable by insiders . . .

"The cost overruns," Manhattan, inc. concludes, "aren't believed to be tied to Joyce's deportation from the news division: they only came to about four percent. But many attributed Joyce's reported adversarial attitudes in his final months to financial pressures. He was charged with squeezing a budget for a news staff that was complaining to the outside that it wasn't receiving priority support from the corporation at large" . . . Also in the News

"America," the syndicated "infotainment" hour launched by Paramount Television and the Post-Newsweek stations this fall, was canceled yesterday, a victim of the November ratings sweeps around the country . . .

It will be seen for the last time on Friday, Jan. 3 . . .

Poor showings at CBS-owned stations in New York, Chicago and Philadelphia -- three of the biggest TV markets in the country -- during November recently caused CBS to cancel the show, whose performance had hurt the ratings of the early night news programs on those stations . . .

Some 108 stations, including WJLA here, had signed for the show, and in the Washington market as well as in such cities as Miami, Phoenix and Dayton, Ohio, the program has done well. But the loss of the biggest markets apparently spelled doom for the project . . .

"There are very strong short-term pressures on stations these days," one knowledgeable source told us yesterday. "One ratings book, and they have to make a decision" . . .Those pressures are especially strong at CBS, which is still retrenching after the costly fight to prevent Ted Turner's takeover earlier this year . . .

The program, a blend of interviews and entertainment features, cost approximately $400,000 a week to produce. With license fees and advertising revenues meeting most of those costs so far, the coproducers are not expecting any major loss from the project . . .

Tom Cookerly, general manager of WJLA, said yesterday that "we're real sorry to see it happen. It was doing very well for us, winning in key demographics, with a very strong command of the younger viewers" . . .

The Washington Area Broadcasters Association held its annual luncheon at the Shoreham yesterday. Named "Honored Profit" this year was Ambassador Mark Evans Austad, longtime Metromedia (and Channel 5) executive who went on to serve in the United Nations and as ambassador to Finland and Norway . . .

He was cited for his distinguished service . . .

Nella Manes, president of Ehrlich Manes advertising agency ($35 million annual billings), was presented with the Friend of Broadcasting award for her contributions to the industry . . .

NBC got a little early Christmas cheer yesterday. A.C. Nielsen discovered that it had underestimated the audience for Sunday's "Christmas in Washington" . . .

The ratings rose from 16.9 with a 27 percent share of the national audience to 19.1/30, which moved the program from a tied for 33rd in last week's national ratings to a tie (with "Moonlighting") for 17th . . .

That's the best showing yet in the four years of the program . . .

CBS News has named Frank Currier and Peter Van Sant as correspondents. Currier has been a reporter in the Chicago bureau since 1982. Van Sant has been based in Atlanta since 1984 . . .

CBS' new Mary Tyler Moore vehicle, "Mary," is off to a comparatively slow start . . .

Last Wednesday in its debut, "Mary" managed a 19.5 Nielsen rating and a 30 percent audience share in Nielsen's top 12 markets . . .

But when all the rural precincts had been counted, the national numbers had dropped to 17.1/26 . . .

This Wednesday, "Mary" slipped to a 16.4/26 in the 12 Nielsen overnight markets, whence her major support is expected . . .

The ill health of the star has caused ABC to postpone the debut of "The Redd Foxx Show" from Saturday, Jan. 11, to Jan. 18, which will also delay the move of "Benson" from Friday to an adjacent time slot the same night . . .

A special called "Hollywood's Private Home Movies" will fill the 8 to 9 time slot on Jan. 11 instead . . .

And "Entertainment Tonight" reported yesterday that actor Gary Coleman had been admitted to a Los Angeles hospital showing signs of rejecting his second kidney transplant. Coleman, the star of "Diff'rent Strokes," will be placed on ambulatory dialysis until a new kidney can be found, the program said . . .

A spokesman for the actor said the treatment was not an emergency procedure, and Coleman will be back at work in January . . . And Finally

ABC Sports announced yesterday that sportscaster Howard Cosell "has asked to forgo his remaining 1986 TV commitments" (the Kentucky Derby, the Preakness Stakes and the Tournament of Champions Tennis Classic) . . .

To nobody's surprise, ABC agreed . . .

Cosell will continue to be on the radio network, however . . .

ABC Sports President Roone Arledge, in a statement, said "Mr. Cosell has played a very important role in ABC Sports' success during the past two decades. He has achieved a well-deserved superstar status in that period and his extraordinary contributions to sports journalism will not be forgotten by the television industry. We wish him nothing but success in his future endeavors" . . .

If that sounds a little cold (not even a "Howard"?) just remember Arledge was one of many targets of Cosell's memoirs, "I Never Played the Game," which mightily disturbed the sports division when it was published earlier this year . . .