The first Big Battle of the February ratings sweeps took place Sunday and when the smoke had cleared, "Peter sw,-2 sk,2 ld,10 The Great" was a couple of cannonballs in the lead . . .
Part I of the $26 million NBC mini-series had an easy time of it between 9 and 11 . . . averaging a 23 rating and a 33 percent audience share in Nielsen's 12 major markets . . .
Part I of "Sins," on CBS, averaged an 18.0/26 during its three-hour run on the network . . . while "Octopussy" on ABC averaged a 16.8/25 for ABC through 11 p.m. . . .
ABC didn't do badly, considering the competition. Its "Disney Movie" debuted with a 15.1/22 over two hours, a marked improvement over the 6.4/8 averaged by "Ripley's Believe It or Not!" and a crime-drama pilot, "Pros and Cons" the previous Sunday in the same time slot . . .
NBC got off to a very fast start Sunday night with a "special" episode of "The Cosby Show" at 8 that averaged a 29.5/41 . . . "Amazing Stories," which followed at 8:30, fell off but to a still adequate 21.4/30, providing a nice lead-in to "Peter" . . .
David Poltrack, CBS' top researcher, insisted yesterday the overnight win by "Peter" wasn't all that Great, after all . . .
CBS' "Sins" gained 14 percent in audience over the course of the evening, he pointed out, while "Peter" fell off 11 percent as the night went on . . .
He also expected that when the national figures are in today, the CBS mini-series will have closed the gap somewhat on the NBC performance Sunday night . . .
Poltrack also predicted that last night's CBS lead-in of "Kate & Allie" and "Newhart" would help Part II of "Sins" considerably in the competition and that tonight, when both networks start with the State of the Union on an evening that is generally a disaster for CBS, "Sins" will come into its own . . .
"We were hit by the 'Cosby' strategy," said Poltrack, who also praised ABC's counterprogramming strategy on Sunday . . .
Channel 5's "PM Magazine" crew will be at the Lake Forest shopping mall in Gaithersburg tomorrow night between 7 and 9 p.m., to tape "video Valentines" of mall customers . . .
The "best" and/or the "funniest" will air on "PM Magazine" on Valentine's Day, which, if the Official Airwaves Calendar is not playing tricks, is Friday the 14th . . .
Hey, golfing fans. Don't get mad at Channel 9 for not carrying the final round of the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro/Am golf tournament yesterday afternoon, as advertised . . .
It was rained out . . .
Rain out or no, Fingers and Toes are crossed at Channel 9 in anticipation of the 44th Alfred I. duPont-Columbia University Awards in Broadcast Journalism tomorrow night in New York . . .
WDVM investigative reporter Mark Feldstein is among the finalists for his series on an area doctor who ran abortion clinics . . . Feldstein has already won a Peabody for the series . . .
In other award news, Steve Affens of Channel 7 was named Cameraman of the Year in the 43rd annual White House News Photographers Association competition, announced Saturday . . .
The complete list of television winners, in order of finish, includes:
News series category: cameraman Estel Dillon of NBC's TV station division; Affens of WJLA, second; and George Fridrich, NBC News bureau, third . . .
General news: Affens, WJLA; Don Lee, Chronicle Broadcasting; and Hal Hoiland, WDVM . . .
Feature: Paul Fine, CBS; Rodney Batten, NBC; and Hal Herman, WJLA . . .
Day Feature: Hal Hoiland, WDVM; James Forrest, WRC; and Affens, WJLA . . .
Spot News: Affens, WJLA; and Tad Dukehart, WDVM . . .
Lighting: Marvin Purbaugh, NBC . . .
Sound: Jeffrey Goodman, NBC; Harry Weldon and Eric Speights, ABC; and Clyde Roller, WJLA . . .
Editing: Mick Tcherkassky, NBC; Holly Fine, CBS; and Estel Dillon, NBC . . .
The awards will be presented at the association's annual dinner May 15th at the Shoreham . . .
The documentary may be a dying form but it can still be a remarkably powerful form, whose impact and worth cannot be measured in ratings . . .
On Saturday night, Jan. 25, the network aired a thought-provoking 90-minute CBS Reports called "The Vanishing Family -- Crisis in Black America" . . .
It was anchored and reported by Bill Moyers, who spent a year putting the program together with executive producer Perry Wolff, profiling "the human beings behind the statistics" among three black families in Newark, N.J. . . .
In the weekly ratings, it finished 64th among 67 primetime programs, with an 8.1 Nielsen rating and a 14 percent audience share . . .
But its largest audience was here in opinion-making Washington, where "The Vanishing Family" achieved a 20 share . . .
Overnight, newspaper readers here could measure the program's impact -- in the editorial responses, the columns, the unsolicited comments from politicians and commmunity leaders . . .
CBS itself found a different yardstick. Its CBS Broadcast International is the unit that markets, for $300 each, the cassettes of CBS programs. The $300 buys the exhibition rights for the broadcast. For the most part, the purchasers of documentaries are institutional -- schools, churches, libraries -- for use in training programs and the like . . .
As a rule, the unit might sell 20 cassettes of a CBS News documentary . . .
Before the week was out, there had been more than 200 requests for "The Vanishing Family" and orders were still coming in . . .
An official of the California state school system called to order 7,500 copies of the program, for use in every school in the system . . .
Dolores Sura, director of institutional sales for the CBS marketing unit, said yesterday that because of the huge potential cost to the school system, to say nothing of the unit's inability to suddenly produce that many cassettes, CBS is making arrangements with the California schools to produce, at the lowest cost possible, a master tape from which the schools can duplicate as many cassettes as needed . . .
"It is the largest demand for a CBS News product we've ever had," CBS News senior vice president David Fuchs said yesterday. "Much more importantly, we are hearing from exactly the people we had hoped to reach -- a black teacher in Newark called Bill directly after the broadcast to get a cassette to show to all of her classes . . .
"We've had inquiries from black community leaders and church leaders and educators all over the country, in cities like Nashville and Augusta . . . Two or three U.S. senators have asked for tapes. So have New York state legislators" . . .
CBS News has even heard that the program was noted well at the White House and that a task force on the family, already in place, has "changed directions" in response to some of the questions raised by "The Vanishing Family" . . .
In Other News
Tom Brokaw and the "NBC Nightly News" crew are going to Manila after all. Plans to cover the Philippine presidential election this Friday on the spot were canceled last week in the wake of the Challenger shuttle tragedy . . .
Yesterday, the network said Brokaw will broadcast from the Manila Hotel on Thursday and Friday of this week . . .
"ABC World News Tonight With Peter Jennings" will also be in Manila, Feb. 6-7 . . . but "CBS Evening News With Dan Rather" won't be making the trip . . .
As many had predicted, ABC Sports senior vice president Jim Spence resigned yesterday . . . a week after Roone Arledge relinquished his post as ABC Sports president in favor of Dennis Swanson, formerly head of the ABC-owned TV stations . . .
In a statement yesterday, Spence said: "It is with regret that I announce my resignation from ABC Sports, effective immediately . . .
"I have reached this decision after considerable thought and deliberation. I have concluded that it is in the best interests of the organization for me to depart at this time . . .
"I am extremely grateful for the support, dedication and innovative efforts of our sports department personnel. I am also very proud of the success and accomplishments of ABC Sports" . . .
Spence first joined ABC Sports in 1960 and was named senior vice president in 1978, coordinating and supervising the day-to-day operations under Arledge, who, the year before, also took on the job of president of ABC News, which he still holds . . . in addition to his new title of group president in charge of both sports and news . . .
Spence gave no indication of his future plans yesterday . . .