Bill Monroe, who has worked in Washington during his entire 25-year career with NBC News, is retiring, effective today . . .

NBC News President Larry Grossman, in a statement, praised Monroe's "long and distinguished careers as an executive and as a broadcaster. His talent in both areas will be missed" . . .

Monroe joined NBC here as Washington bureau chief in 1961. Seven years later he became the Washington segment producer and an interviewer on the "Today" show . . .

In 1975 he became moderator and executive producer of "Meet the Press," positions he held until 1984. Most recently, he has been a regular on the "Today" show with a letters-to-the-editor segment . . .

Monroe has received both a George Foster Peabody award and the Radio and Television News Directors' Paul White Award for distinguished service to broadcasting . . .

ABC News announced yesterday that Rex Granum, who has been director of TV news coverage in New York, has been named southern bureau chief . . . supervising the bureaus in Atlanta, Dallas, Miami and Central and Latin America out of Atlanta . . .

He replaces Ray Nunn, who becomes senior producer, weekend news, in New York . . .

ABC News also announced that Glennwood Branche, who has been a Washington bureau producer, has been named chief of the new Philadelphia bureau . . .

"Peter the Great" wound up his four-night standski on NBC Wednesday night with a 17.4 national Nielsen rating and a 27 percent audience share . . .

That gave him a 19.2/30 average over the four nights, not all that far back of CBS' "Sins," which averaged a 20.7/31 during three nights in their battle of the mini-series . . .

Joan Collins, who starred in "Sins," didn't help Peter all that much on Wednesday, either . . . her "Dynasty" on ABC from 9 to 10 averaged a 20.2/30, which put a hole in the NBC audience right from the start . . .

Biggest show again on Wednesday was NBC's "Highway to Heaven," which did a 22.8/35 . . .

Word is out that Steve Kimatian, executive director of the Maryland Public Television system, has resigned to accept a job with WKBW, the ABC affiliate in Buffalo . . .

Also in the NewsDespite worries expressed by representatives of the Arab-American community here, Channel 4 plans nothing special Sunday when it airs "Under Seige," a three-hour made-for-TV movie about an Arab terrorist's attacks in the United States. . .

"We will cover it as a news story on the Sunday night news, probably," said David Neull, WRC station manager . . .

Officials at NBC in New York said the network had no plans for either an advisory or special programming connected with the movie, as some Arab-American leaders had urged . . .

However, WDIV in Detroit plans an advisory Sunday night, the text of which had not been finalized late yesterday . . .

Arab-American leaders in nearby Dearborn, Mich., had contacted the station because of fears of reprisals against the largest Arab community in the United States, which resides in Dearborn . . .

ABC News announced yesterday that ABC and Money magazine will regularly poll public opinion on economic questions of interest to consumers . . . the first such strictly economic polling service on a network, according to ABC . . .

Taste Elsewhere The Senate office of Edward M. Kennedy (D-Mass.) was still receiving sympathetic calls yesterday from TV viewers "outraged" by the Jan. 29 episode of NBC's "St. Elsewhere," in which a powerful and generally unpleasant Massachusetts political clan was depicted . . . culminating in the assassination, in the hospital chapel, of the fictional "Sen. Endicott" by a deranged ex-patient . . .

Boston newspapers ripped MTM Productions, producers of the series, calling the episode "exploitative," "tasteless" and "unsavory" . . .

The episode -- which also included storylines about couple swapping and AIDS -- concerned the hospitalization of the matriarch of the arrogant Endicott clan for heart surgery . . .

Her son, the senator (depicted by a Ted Kennedy look-alike, according to viewers), is played as an unsavory, overbearing politician who demands, like other members of the family, special treatment for his mother . . .

A longtime Kennedy staffer, who asked not to be identified yesterday, confirmed that unofficial representations have been written to both Bruce Paltrow, executive producer of the series, and to NBC Chairman Grant Tinker concerning what many on the senator's staff felt was a "tasteless and irresponsible caricature" . . .

(Coincidentally, Tinker's son Mark is supervising producer on "St. Elsewhere" and Tinker himself ran MTM before joining NBC.) . . .

Surprisingly, the Boston NBC affiliate received fewer than a dozen calls protesting the episode that night and the next day. And NBC in New York recorded only three calls of protest. However, Boston Globe TV columnist Ed Siegel said yesterday he has since received numerous calls and letters regarding the episode . . .

The Kennedy staffer yesterday said she does not know if Kennedy has been made aware of the program but otherwise, "It's the talk of the Hill" . . .

Paltrow was out of town yesterday but a spokesman for MTM Productions said he knew of no protests regarding the episode . . .

Grant Tinker's office in Burbank yesterday said no complaints regarding the program had been received . . .

Again reflecting the nation's interest in the Challenger space shuttle disaster, the early morning network shows attracted larger-than-usual audiences last week . . .

NBC's renascent "Today" registered a 6.3 Nielsen rating and a 26 percent audience share to win the morning race for the eighth week in a row . . .

Faltering "Good Morning America" had a 5.7/24 and "CBS Morning News" a very modest 3.2/13, which was even a share point down from the previous week's performance . . .

NBC wants us all to know that the rating for the week ending Jan. 31 was the highest since March 1981 and the eight straight weekly wins were its first since 1979 . . .

Starting tomorrow, Channel 9 will begin airing two promotional spots prepared in collaboration with CBS News and the Jacobs and Gerber agency plugging the fair, accurate reporting one gets if one watches Dan Rather and Gordon Peterson . . .

The 30- and 20-second promos will run through February, at least . . .

Incidentally, Tuesday, Feb. 18, is now set as the date for the official takeover of Nine by Gannett Co. Inc., finalizing the merger with the Evening News Association . . .

Station sources say Gannett has been extra careful to avoid any appearance of premature interference in WDVM operations in recent months, not even visiting the station (so scrupulous has Gannett been, we hear, top anchor Gordon Peterson was miffed for a while because he never did hear from his new bosses) . . . Chances are, they say, the only thing viewers will notice for a while after the takeover will be the change in the copyright line on the news broadcasts . . .

And Finally At the monthly International Radio and Television Society luncheon in New York yesterday, NBC Entertainment President Brandon Tartikoff said he had no concerns over the presence, starting in March, of the low-rated "American Almanac" magazine on the weekly Tuesday schedule . . .

"We plan to have anchor Roger Mudd guest as a neighbor on 'The Cosby Show' and then we'll have the Cosby kids visit the set of 'Almanac' in a later episode," Tartikoff explained . . .