I think we'd best clear the breakfast nook of the L-i-t-t-l-e O-n-e-s for the first item this morning, TV Column fans . . .
(Hurry, Leroy. Help your little sister with her coat and you and Fiona run out and play in the snow for a few minutes. That's a good lad) . . .
All clear? . . .
The management of Channel 4 apologized yesterday for the on-air promotion it ran Sunday night between "Punky Brewster" and "Silver Spoons," both of which are aimed at young audiences, between 7 and 8 p.m. . . .
"It got on the air by mistake," Vice President and General Manager Fred DeMarco said yesterday. "We apologize to our viewers" . . .
The 30-second promotion plugged an investigative series that was launched last night on the 6 p.m. news by Jack Cloherty. Said the voice-over:
"On a computer bulletin board system -- a system that's being used in part by adult men to exchange hard-core stories about sex with teen-aged boys -- one boy user agreed to meet with someone he thought to be a willing teen-ager . . .
"We'll tell you about the system, called 'The Switchboard': how it works and the man behind it. 'High Tech Sex' is a story that could affect any home with a computer" . . .
DeMarco said the station had received two calls from complaining parents Monday morning but that the station switchboard had been shut down Sunday night when the promo aired . . .
The last big three-network confrontation of the February ratings sweeps started Sunday night. . . and when the smoke had cleared . . . Part I of "Blood & Orchids" on CBS seemed to have a slight edge, at least in the 12-city Nielsen overnight ratings . . .
"Blood & Orchids" averaged a 20.6 rating and a 30 percent audience share between 9 and 11 p.m., compared with a 19.6/29 for Part I of "Crossings" on ABC . . .
The three-hour disaster on NBC called "The Fifth Missile" averaged a 13.9/20 . . .
The Disney Movie on ABC from 7 to 9 p.m., "The Girl Who Spelled Freedom," averaged a 13.2/19, far behind "60 Minutes" and "Murder, She Wrote," which together averaged a 24.5/36 for CBS but ahead of "Punky Brewster," "Silver Spoons" and the first hour of "Missile," which together averaged an 11.6/17 . . .
In Washington "Blood & Orchids" averaged a 26.9/40 on Channel 9, "Crossings" a 17.1/25 on Channel 7 and "The Fifth Missile" an 11.1/16 on Channel 4 . . .
Meanwhile, may we have another chorus of "Where Is My Wandering Boy Tonight?" . . .
NBC News anchor Tom Brokaw -- slated to be all by his lonesome in New York this week as ABC's Peter Jennings broadcasts from Moscow and CBS' Dan Rather tours the Texas and South Dakota farm country -- is on the move, too . . .
He's taking "NBC Nightly News" all the way to the Dean Acheson Auditorium at the State Department here, site of the NASA hearings, whence he will broadcast tonight and tomorrow night . . .
Meanwhile, ABC's Ted Koppel was slated to finally land in Manila last night after he and CBS correspondent Bob Simons landed in Hong Kong Sunday because the commercial flight they were on elected not to chance landing in an edgy Manila . . .
Koppel reportedly taped a "Nightline" show in Hong Kong yesterday before flying into Manila last evening . . . In Manila he joins correspondents Jim Laurie and Edie Magnus on the air with the help of about 20 producers . . .
Last night, Sam Donaldson was to anchor from Washington, Koppel from Hong Kong and Jennings from Moscow on "ABC World News Tonight" . . .
With "CBS Evening News With Dan Rather" broadcasting out of the CBS San Antonio affiliate, correspondents David Jackson, John Sheahan and Rick Frederickson will be in Manila with Bob Simon still to arrive. A total of six producers (three of whom were still en route last night) were assigned to the Philippines . . .
Wyatt Andrews will be in Moscow for the network this week . . .
NBC will have Steve Mallory and Jim Bitterman in Manila along with eight producers and four camera crews . . .
Also in the News
NBC Entertainment announced yesterday that "All Is Forgiven," a sitcom starring Bess Armstrong, will move into the 9:30 p.m. Saturday time slot currently occupied by "227" for a run starting March 29 . . .
The series will have two "sneak previews" at 9:30 p.m. the Thursdays of March 20 and 27 in the "Night Court" time slot . . .
Armstrong plays "a young career woman suddenly faced with a multitude of hilarious problems when she starts a new job and a new marriage at the same time. At work she's the new producer of a daytime TV drama and at home she's the new stepmother of her husband's snarly, outspoken teen-aged daughter" . . .
Terrence Knox plays the new husband, Shawnee Smith is the snarly stepdaughter . . .
The network said "227" will return to the air in May . . .
Details are a little skimpy but ABC News management yesterday notified the executive producers of its programs that contracts will no longer be offered to a "majority" of employes on the production side who work under them . . .
According to the News division, directly affected will be about 100 "field producers" (some of whom are listed as "producers," depending on the show they're assigned to) who have previously negotiated contracts with the network on a regular (usually three-year) basis . . .
As nonunion staff employes they will instead receive the routine 3- to 5-percent period raises offered to all other network employes . . .
(Sources outside ABC yesterday said the number of production employes affected is "in the hundreds" and that eventually some senior producers will also be taken off contracts) . . .
The decision was reportedly made last week before ABC News President Roone Arledge and his top deputy, David Burke, flew to Moscow to join Jennings and the "World News Tonight" crew, which is broadcasting from the Soviet capital all this week . . .
One News division source -- who asked not to be identified -- said yesterday that "if you go back a period, about six years ago, very few below executive producer and senior producer were offered contracts. And then for a lot of different reasons, contracts for producers proliferated, by and large for a lot of people who probably wouldn't have had contracts. It just got out of hand" . . .
This source said discussions on such a decision were held last year, before Capital Cities Communications Inc. took over ABC, by then-ABC president Fred Pierce and the ABC board of directors . . .
Said this source: "We don't want anybody to be upset or frightened by the decision. Some producers will be retained on contracts" . . .
He said the policy change was not a money-saving device, except that "a lot of administrative work will be dropped -- we won't be tracking as many contracts" . . .
He admitted that "it will probably affect morale until they realize that we wanted to make it more straightforward, that's all" . . .
One knowledgeable outsider, however, predicted that without contracts, NBC and CBS will look more attractive to some of the producers, who will no longer be able to negotiate larger raises. "They'll be treated like secretaries at ABC" . . .
This outsider said Capital Cities management yesterday even withdrew offers to many producers whose contracts were still under negotiation, a charge denied by sources at ABC News . . .
At ABC they also denied that the decision came from Capital Cities management. "What's happening is that a majority of people won't have contracts anymore. It's a new world and we're asking them to try it out with us" . . .