CBS has purchased equipment for "real time captioning," which will enable the network to close-caption live programs such as "CBS Evening News With Dan Rather" and "Face the Nation," as well as certain major sports events like the Super Bowl ... probably starting this fall ...

Yesterday, NBC News announced that "Meet the Press," in partnership with the National Captioning Institute, will begin close-captioning for the hearing-impaired starting this Sunday ...

Previously, among the major Sunday morning public affairs programs, only ABC's "This Week With David Brinkley" had been close-captioned. That started in January 1986 ...

CBS already close-captions some 12 to 14 hours of primetime programming each week, including "Murder, She Wrote," "Cagney & Lacey" and "Dallas" ...

Some 550,000 decoders are now in service for deaf and hearing-impaired viewers around the country ...

Well, Grandpa Airwaves always used to say, "give the viewers what they want and you'll have to fight them off with sticks" ...

Tuesday night, despite the attraction in the East of the Celtics-Lakers game on CBS, "Frontline: Death of a Porn Queen," on viewer-proof PBS, averaged a record-setting 9.5 Nielsen rating and a 15 percent audience share in the top five markets in the country ...

The overnights were registered in New York, Philadelphia, Chicago, Los Angeles and San Francisco ...

"Frontline's" previous overnight high in those same five big cities had been an 8.2/12, set in January 1983 by the first program in the series, which promised "An Unauthorized History of the NFL" ...

On the other hand, blase' Washington viewers gave "Porn Queen" on Channel 26 only a 3.3/6 between 9 and 10 p.m. ... while game four of the NBA championship was averaging an 18.7/33 on Channel 9 between 9 and 11:40 Tuesday night ...

The NBA contest averaged a national Nielsen rating of 18.9/31 on CBS, the second-best NBA game rating ever, behind the 19.3/33 set by game seven of the championship L.A.-Boston series in June 1984 ...

Over on NBC, the conclusion of "Deceptions" averaged a 17.9/28, while the team of "Moonlighting" and "Spenser: For Hire" did a 12.9/21 ...

In New York, the game attracted a 13.1/22, while "Porn Queen" did a 9.6/15. In Philadelphia, the game did a 16.1/26, while the PBS program registered a 9.8/15 ...

In Los Angeles, the game averaged a huge 25.5/42. The PBS program, which followed, did a 9.4/14 ...

In Boston, the NBA game registered an even more huge 35.1/54 ...

Cable News Network will air Andrei Sakharov's videotaped commencement address to the College of Staten Island on Sunday, starting at 5 p.m. ...

And those lucky few (about 800 customers on Capitol Hill, in the White House and in downtown business offices) who are tapped into "The Capitol Connection" can watch the last 3 1/2 hours of election returns live from the BBC tonight, starting at 6 p.m. ...

"The Capitol Connection" is the George Mason University microwave TV system, which transmits across the Potomac from the roof of the USA Today building in Rosslyn ...

Also in the News That restructuring of top management at NBC News earlier this week -- one of the first major moves since the consulting firm of McKinsey & Co. began its analysis of the division -- also includes the formation of eight task forces. Some have some fairly special management goals but the "domestic restructuring" group is to "establish pilot programs to test the feasibility of creating mini-bureaus at affiliate stations and integrating NBC News bureaus into" the network's owned-and-operated stations, such as WRC here ...

For instance, over the past several years, NBC and KUTV, the network affiliate in Salt Lake City, have shared a producer who, in the words of one NBC News executive, "protects the interests of the network" on major stories ...

The arrangement has worked very well and an expansion of that setup to other affiliates will be considered ...

During the first feed of "NBC Nightly News" last night, a report from Chris Wallace in Venice was interrupted when the lights went out. Tom Brokaw stepped in, thanked Chris for his "enlightening report" and went on with the broadcast ...

Speaking of NBC, those meanies at NBC research yesterday admitted they had been wrong in saying that "CBS Evening News' " finish in third place the last two weeks in a row was the first time ever for that network ...

Red-faced researchers now say it happened at least once before, over two weeks in September 1981 ...

Is ABC News president Roone Arledge being ingenuous? ...

He told network affiliates meeting in Los Angeles on Tuesday that despite layoffs and cutbacks during the last year, the division has managed to avoid the publicity that surrounded similar retrenchments at CBS and NBC ...

"This has been a difficult year for the news divisions at all three networks," Alredge told them. "We have, by and large, managed to stay out of the press ... for some of the internal laundering we did not want aired" ...

Yesterday, during an ABC Sports presentation, those same ABC affiliates watched New York Giant defensive lineman Harry Carson sneak up on ABC network president John Sias and dump a barrel full of confetti over his head ...

Carson was the chap who dumped the Gatorade over New York coach Bill Parcells' head after every big Giant win last season, including, of course, the Super Bowl ...

And Finally Former Democratic National Committee chairman Robert Strauss has agreed to serve as co-host, with William F. Buckley Jr., of the July 1 debate among Democratic presidential hopefuls from Houston ...

The live, two-hour "Firing Line" special will air on PBS starting at 9 that night ...

Later in the year, another "Firing Line" special from Houston will feature Republican hopefuls. No co-host has been chosen for that one yet ...