Monte Newman, who served several tours of duty at WRC here in the '60s and '70s, is returning to the area as executive vice president and chief operating officer of Earle Palmer Brown Cos., Bethesda . . .

Most recently, Newman was vice president and general manager of WMAQ, the NBC-owned station in Chicago . . .

Between 1977 and 1979, he was station manager at Channel 4 here. Starting in 1966 he spent several years at WRC in various sales capacities, becoming general sales manager in 1972 . . .

Earle Palmer Brown Cos. include an advertising company, a public relations firm, a direct marketing operation and sales promotion. In addition to the Bethesda headquarters office, the firm has offices in Philadelphia and Richmond . . .

Newman starts work Feb. 24 . . .

NBC's three-hour movie "Under Siege," which was under siege from Arab-Americans around the country right up to broadcast time Sunday night, averaged a 19.7 rating and a 28 percent audience share in Nielsen's 12 major market overnights . . .

In Washington -- where some 50 Arab-Americans demonstrated Sunday afternoon at WRC, protesting what they felt was an unfair portrait -- the program averaged an 18.2/27 from 8 to 11 p.m. on WRC . . .

From 9 to 11 Sunday, the CBS movie "Child's Cry" averaged a 19.9/29 in the 12 big markets, including a 20.7/31 on WDVM here . . .

Part I of "Harem" on ABC Sunday did a 16.9/24 in the 12 cities, including a 14.9/23 on WJLA . . .

With solid lead-in strength from "60 Minutes" and "Murder, She Wrote," CBS took Sunday night overall . . .

Between 4 p.m. and midnight Sunday, WRC recorded a total of 209 phone complaints regarding "Under Siege," while two viewers called to express approval of the movie . . .

In New York, NBC received 286 complaints Sunday night, as well as 16 approving phone calls . . .

In Detroit, near Dearborn, where the largest Arab-American community in the United States is located, the local NBC affiliates received more than 400 calls, the majority of them complaints . . . despite the fact that WDIV, apparently alone of all the more than 200 NBC affiliates, aired a disclaimer before the movie began ("This program you are about to see raises important civil liberties questions. It is a fictional program and the characters do not represent any American, ethnic or religious groups") . . .

The syndicated "Entertainment Tonight" program recently asked more than 100 TV critics around the country to choose the most influential television shows of all time (well, since the 1950s anyway) . . .

Starting this Thursday night, with an "overview" of the survey results, "ET" will once a week for the next 10 weeks broadcast feature stories on 10 of the winners . . . The other 10 will be covered in the fall . . .

The 20 most influential shows, in order, according to the critics (may we have the envelope please? I said gimme the envelope! That's better. For a second there I thought I'd have to pop you one):

Number one was "All in the Family," followed by a tie for second between "Today" and "Tonight," with "Sesame Street" fourth, "I Love Lucy" fifth and "60 Minutes" sixth . . .

Continuing down the list: "Hill Street Blues" and "The Ed Sullivan Show" tied for seventh, followed by "Roots" in ninth, and "M*A*S*H," 10th . . .

Tied for 11th were "Masterpiece Theatre," "Playhouse 90" and "Gunsmoke" . . .

Tied for 14th were four programs: "Milton Berle's Texaco Star Theatre," "CBS Evening News" (during the Vietnam era), "See It Now" and "Saturday Night Live" . . .

"Rowan and Martin's Laugh-In" was rated 18th, while "Your Show of Shows" and "The $64,000 Question" tied for 19th . . .

If you don't agree with the choices, don't call Captain Airwaves. Tune in "ET" on Channel 7 (or 13) starting Thursday and join Airwaves as he waves his spindly arms and shouts things like " 'Saturday Night Live'? Are you crazy?" . . . Also in the News

Quote from Ed Asner during recent interview in Los Angeles in which he discussed his starring role as an alcoholic physician in tonight's CBS movie, "Vital Signs":

"I've never had a hangover in my life" . . .

The financial boffins at NBC are looking into the feasibility of starting a Sunday morning edition of the "Today" show . . .

It could be 90 minutes or two hours long, according to current projections . . .

The idea is not new. But the recent success of the weekday version of "Today" and the unperformance of NBC's tired "Meet the Press" -- trailing its Sunday morning network public affairs counterparts -- have revived the idea . . .

A relatively cheap Sunday version of "Today" (which costs $150,000 a day to produce during the week) might become a profit center, as has "CBS Sunday Morning" . . and a 90-minute program, wrapped around "Meet the Press," might help revive the latter, or at least tease viewers into watching NBC until it's over and "Today" comes back on the air . . .

And, of course, a two-hour "Today" just might swallow "Meet the Press" entirely . . .

Working against the idea -- and it's this aspect that has the network Money Persons looking hard at the project -- would be the reluctance of many NBC affiliates to drop profit-making local religious programming on Sunday mornings in favor of a network show . . .

Then there's the problem of who would do a Sunday "Today" -- certainly none of the big-name weekday performers, like Jane Pauley, Bryant Gumbel or Willard Scott . . .

In the most recent full quarter -- from October through December 1985 -- "Meet the Press" averaged a 2.1 Nielsen rating and a 7 share, compared with a 3.0/9 for CBS' "Face the Nation" and a 3.9/11 for the one-hour "This Week With David Brinkley" on ABC . . .

"Sunday Morning" did a 5.2/20 over the same period . . .

Regardless of what the Money Persons decide, the project is a long time away from showing up on the air . . .

Speaking of "Today," preliminary Nielsen ratings for January in the Washington market show the NBC early morning program starting to make a move . . .

ABC's "Good Morning America," which is slumping nationally, nevertheless remains a strong number one for Channel 7, averaging a 6.2 rating and a 28 share, even with its performance in January 1985 . . .

"Today" is a distant second with a 3.8/17, just about its performance a year ago but good enough to climb ahead of "CBS Morning News" locally . . . CBS fell from a 5/22 in January 1985 to a 3.6/16 last month . . .

Howard University graduate Phylicia Rashad, who plays Bill Cosby's wife Clair on "The Cosby Show," will address students of the Howard drama department in the Ira Aldridge Theatre at 1 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 28 . . .

Oops! ABC News (formerly in New York, but for the day reporting from High Dudgeon) called yesterday to remind a chagrined Captain Airwaves that Helen Westwood is London bureau chief, Alma Kadragic is Warsaw bureau chief and Crystal Kucharz is bureau manager in Bonn, where there is no bureau chief . . .

A trusting Airwaves had reported Monday that there were no female bureau chiefs overseas, as some disgruntled female employes at ABC News had claimed . . .