Rumour du jour: CBS will announce any minute now that the News division will take back the two full hours in the morning between 7 and 9 a.m. ...

Since January, the 90 minutes from 7:30 on have been occupied by "The Morning Program," whose ratings have been just as awful as its reviews. A 90-minute "CBS Early Morning News" airs from 6 to 7:30 a.m. Forrest Sawyer, who had coanchored the early news show with Faith Daniels, left the network last week ...

It may be too early for CBS News to reveal who will anchor the recouped two hours, however (rumors persist that Sawyer left when he wasn't chosen for one of the pending jobs) ...

A key prospect, ABC News' Kathleen Sullivan, has received still another bid from ABC, which doesn't want to lose her but has few options to offer her ...

ABC vice president for early morning programs Phil Beuth reportedly isn't keen on Sullivan as a permanent "Good Morning America" coanchor, with Charles Gibson, even though Joan Lunden has already gone public with her desire to move to a syndicated program Paramount TV is considering for next fall...

Among several other options, Sullivan is also the prime candidate for GTG Entertainment's "USA Today" show, which debuts in a year ...

Steve Friedman, who is putting "USA Today" together, said yesterday that Sullivan doesn't have a time limit as yet on whether to accept the GTG offer, but "we're not sitting around not talking to anybody else" in the meantime...

Friedman is outspoken about his wish list, which besides Sullivan also includes CBS' Jane Wallace (reportedly tired of the traveling grind on "West 57th") and Meredith Vieira; NBC's Boyd Matson, Bill MacAtee, Deborah Norville and Robin Young; Kate Kelly from Westinghouse; as well as Bob Brown, Stone Phillips and Tom Jarriel, also from ABC ...

The "USA Today" format would include three anchors. The program also plans to establish bureaus in New York, London, Los Angeles, Denver, Atlanta and one other city in the Midwest ...

Moving Right Along Channel 26 says that starting tonight at 11:30 p.m., it will air an hour of edited highlights every evening taken from the day's confirmation hearings of Judge Robert Bork before the Senate Judiciary Committee. The highlights will also be made available to PBS stations around the country ...

WETA last week decided to drop daily live coverage of the hearings for financial and editorial reasons ...

The negotiations between ABC News and anchor Peter Jennings continue. Reports pop up in the New York papers periodically that P.J. is going to double his salary, to $1.8 million annually, and is negotiating for the title "managing editor," which CBS' Dan Rather and NBC's Tom Brokaw already have, along with their respective yearly salaries of about $2.5 million and $2 million ...

Jennings, who currently makes about $940,000 a year, is now called "senior editor" of "ABC World News Tonight" ...

Network anchors like to be "managing editors" because, if nothing else, it means you can tell the executive producer which story goes where if there's an argument about it ...

A couple of weeks ago, Rather added a new dimension to the managing editor's job description when he decided unilaterally not to go on the air for the first feed of "CBS Evening News" if CBS Sports' telecast of a tennis match ran over the 6:30 p.m. start time for the newscast ...

It did and Rather left the set. Executive producer Tom Bettag -- who's even had the nerve to battle Dan over story decisions -- finally got Dan back before the cameras but not before the CBS network "went to black" for an unprecedented seven minutes that evening ...

Now the reports on Jennings' negotiations suggest he won't get to be managing editor because of the Rather flap (there are also reports that Dan won't get to be managing editor one of these days, either, because of the Sept. 11 incident, but that's another story) ...

Jennings has refused to talk about his talks. But Friday, a spokesman for ABC News said that "Peter can't talk about his negotiations but he does want to say that everything written about them so far is inaccurate" ...

ABC Sports president Dennis Swanson has taken a leave of absence from his job. One of his sons was involved in a serious automobile accident in California recently and Swanson has been commuting from New York to be at his side ...

The network is not discussing the matter, beyond reports from Swanson's aides claiming he is also exhausted from efforts to get ABC Sports back on the financial track after severe losses in the past few years (seen by some as a continuing effort by Swanson's loyalists to disparage the role of his predecessor in the job, Roone Arledge) ...

But the network is rife with reports that matters may have come to a head in a recent top-level budget meeting at the network when the distraught Swanson displayed his temper in a verbal attack on another executive, prompting higher-ups to suggest he take some time off, up to six weeks ...

The first shots were fired Thursday night by the competition seeking to undercut NBC's overwhelming superiority that night because of the Bill Cosby lead-in, strength that anchors its entire weekly primetime schedule ...

Would you be surprised if we suggest the results were, at best, inconclusive? ...

On Thursday, NBC's "The Cosby Show" averaged a 31.5 national Nielsen rating and a 51 percent audience share. The premiere of its spinoff, "A Different World," at 8:30 did a 31.3/49 ...

"Cheers" followed with a 28.4/44, "Night Court" did a 24.9/40, and an "Unsolved Mysteries" special slipped to a 17.9/32 ...

NBC averaged a 25.3/42 for the evening (each rating point representing 886,000 TV homes) ...

A year ago, with "Family Ties" in the "Different World" timeslot, "Cheers" and a 90-minute Johnny Carson special, NBC averaged a 26.0/43 (when a point represented 874,000 homes) ...

This past Thursday, CBS debuted "Tour of Duty" in the first hour with a 10.6/17 (down from an 11.3/18 for "Simon & Simon" in that hour a year ago), followed by "Wise Guy" at 12.1/19 and "Knots Landing" at 15.2/27 ... an average of 12.6/21 ...

A year ago, "Simon & Simon," "Knots Landing" and the short-lived "Kay O'Brien" averaged a 13.1/21 ...

Incidentally, "Tour of Duty" did a 14.0/22 on Channel 9 here Thursday night ...

On ABC Thursday, the network pitted "Sledge Hammer!" and "The Charmings" against the Cosby package and averaged a 7.3/12, an improvement over last year's "Our World," which averaged a 6.0/9 in the same hour that week ...

Also on ABC, the theatrical movie "Ghostbusters," probably over-cabled since its popularity at the box office, averaged what must have been a disappointing 12.2/20 Thursday night, compared with an 11.7/19 last year for "The Colbys" and "20/20" in the same two hours ...

Overall, ABC averaged a 10.6/17 on Thursday, compared with a 9.8/16 the same night a year ago ...

Now This

New York magazine reports today that CBS' program practices unit has put the kibosh on plans by the producers of "Kate & Allie" to help the New York-based Coalition for the Homeless on the Oct. 19 episode ...

In the program, Allie loses her wallet and spends a day on the streets with homeless people. During the last minute of the show, Susan Saint James and Jane Curtin were to ask the audience to help the homeless, giving viewers the coalition's phone number ...

But after the segment was taped and special music had been recorded for the show (which the coalition plans to use in an upcoming national campaign), CBS nixed the idea ...

CBS vice president of program practices George Dessart told New York "we ran a public service announcement following a made-for-TV movie on teen-age suicide and last season's final 'Cagney & Lacey' episode on alcoholism. But so many shows want to run this kind of announcement now. We don't want our audience to perceive our programming as a succession of billboards" ...

"We wanted to kick off the coalition's national campaign, aimed at making people more aware of the issue," said "Kate & Allie" coproducer Bill Persky ...

Major summertime switches on the local news scene finally settle down tonight when Susan King, formerly of Channel 4, joins coanchor Paul Berry on the 5 p.m. news on Channel 7. Her "Susan King's Coverstory" feature debuts tomorrow night at 11, with the first of four reports she's brought back from a recent trip to Nicaragua ...