The Senate was supposed to turn off the TV cameras yesterday after a six-week experiment, pending a debate on permanent TV coverage of the Senate due July 29 . . .

Instead, it voted to leave the cameras on yesterday, turn them off today, tomorrow and Friday, and then resume TV coverage Monday right up to the debate . . .

Although the cameras will be off for three days, C-SPAN said yesterday the audio portion of the Senate proceedings will still be available on cable systems that have been carrying C-SPAN II during the experiment . . .

At first yesterday, the Senate seemed intent on continuing TV coverage right through until the 29th, but Sens. William Proxmire (D-Wis.) and Ted Stevens (R-Alaska) objected, contending the cameras should not be on while the Rules Committee would be considering legislation about the coverage . . .

The Senate Rules Committee meets, starting today, to consider whatever changes may be necessary in the resolution regarding TV coverage based on the experiment results so far . . .

As for chances of permanent coverage being approved, both Proxmire, a longtime foe of TV in the Senate, and Minority Leader Robert Byrd (D-W.Va.) said yesterday it was "inevitable" . . .

Hey, "Dalton's Code of Vengeance" fans! . . .

NBC will air four one-hour episodes, including two originals, on Sunday nights, including July 27, Aug. 10, 17 and 24 . . .

The last two Sundays will be a rebroadcast of the original "Code of Vengeance" movie in two parts. Charles Taylor stars as an ex-Special Forces Vietnam veteran traveling across the country, doin' good . . .

Hey, "Christopher Columbus" fans! . . .

One of the worst mini-series ever made returns to CBS the nights of Aug. 6-7 in three-hour chunks . . .

ABC News executives meet today to consider candidates to coanchor its primetime "theme hour" "Our World" with Linda Ellerbee this fall . . .

ABC News still hasn't finalized a contract with Ellerbee, who will be paid approximately $350,000 a year by the news division (she will get more from ABC Entertainment if she also signs for "Good Morning America") . . .

If anybody asks Captain Airwaves, he'd say ABC News headquarters in New York bids fair to become Comedy Store East with the addition of the often flippant Ellerbee . . .

For some time now, Airwaves has been hearing stories about maverick ABC Network President John Sias, who keeps dropping in on the West Side bureau -- most recently disguised as Abe Lincoln, beard and all . . .

Travelers from New York report that ABC Newsies can't decide whether to be a little sore, nervous or amused as a result of by the drop-ins and his sometimes biting observations (he made jokes about David Hartman on one visit, agitated the control room during another when he wondered aloud why so many people were needed on the job) . . .

Also in the News

"CBS Evening News With Dan Rather" returned to first place last week after a two-week absence but had to be content with a tie with "NBC Nightly News With Tom Brokaw," as each registered a 10 Nielsen rating and a 22 percent share of the audience . . .

"ABC World News Tonight With Peter Jennings" plummeted from first place the previous week all the way to third, with a 9.8/22 (that's a little joke, TV Column fans. They were first with a 9.9/22 the previous week) . . .

Once again the network news ratings reflected the primetime rankings for the week and that two-tenths of a ratings point difference between first and third is one of the smallest margins in a long, long time . . .

NBC and CBS tied for first place last week with identical 12.1 Nielsen ratings and 23 percent audience shares . . .

ABC was third at 10.1/19 . . . Each rating point represents 859,000 TV homes . . .

There were only seven new programs represented among the 66 primetime programs aired during the week ending July 13 . . .

Aside from "Me and Mrs. C," they included an ABC sitcom pilot called "Man About Town," which finished in a tie for 45th with CBS' "West 57th" . . .

NBC's "1986" was 48th, the NBC major league baseball game on Friday was 50th, the Monday night baseball game on ABC tied for 51st, CBS' sitcom pilot, "The Alan King Show," tied for 53rd and the NBC pregame baseball show was 58th . . .

The CBS News special "The Burger Years" was 65th . . .

Certiorari having been denied, "The Burger Years" was included in this week's Final and Almost Surely Fatal Five, along with ABC's "Running," listed in 62nd place, followed by ABC's "Diff'rent Strokes," which tied with ABC's "Benson"; the CBS documentary; and ABC's "The Colbys," which just lay there in 66th and last place . . .