Negotiators for NBC and the National Association of Broadcast Employees and Technicians (NABET) will return to the bargaining table here Wednesday ...

The Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service called the meeting Friday as the strike against the network by 2,800 NABET members, including writers, camerapersons and other technicians, moves into its 15th week ...

"The dispute ... is certainly having an adverse economic impact upon the employes, the company and the many local communities involved," said Kay McMurray, director of the mediation service. Two previous negotiating attempts, in August and late September, both failed, the latter after only six hours ...

The main issue has been contract language that NABET officials claim would allow NBC to use more non-union workers to cover sports and news events. Another stumbling block has been a network call for a two-year contract. NABET has wanted three ...

In recent days, a substantial number of union members at locals here and in New York and Chicago have petitioned NABET leadership to allow them to vote on the last NBC offer, but after a conference call among union negotiators the petitions were ignored ...

At a meeting of Local 31 here, at least 105 of the 130 or so NABET members who attended called for the contract vote ...

The strike against NBC began June 29, although the contract expired March 31 ...

A study by the Center for Media and Public Affairs here concludes that Judge Robert Bork's "television image took a dramatic downturn" after confirmation hearings began on his nomination to the Supreme Court before the Senate Judiciary Committee ...

According to a study of all 89 network news stories from Bork's nomination on July 1 until the close of Senate hearings on Sept. 30, 59 percent of TV sources were positive toward Bork prior to the hearings. After that, 65 percent were negative ...

Both TV and print sources were running nearly 3 to 2 (58 percent) positive on his fitness since his nomination ...

But negative TV comments on his conservatism increased from 73 percent to 81 percent once hearings began ...

The Center study said civil rights was the topic covered most frequently, followed in order by women's rights, privacy rights and abortion rights ...

(Too late for the study was a segment on yesterday's "Sunday Today," which featured the treatment of Bork at the hands of a gaggle of stand-up comics. Washington's Mark Russell, who really was funny, and certainly better dressed, seemed very much out of place in the loaded NBC News piece) ...

Also in the News

Peggy Cass, joining her first TV series since she was in ABC's "The Hathaways" back in 1962, will play a gun moll on Fox's new entry, "Women in Prison," which debuts Sunday night at 8:30 ...

"Prison" is part of a schedule shuffle following the failure of "Karen's Song" and "Down and Out in Beverly Hills" on the (dare we reach this deep into the Cliche' Bin?) fledgling network ...

Speaking of Fox, Arsenio Hall will continue to host its "The Late Show" (WTTG at 11 p.m.) until it departs at the end of November in favor of a new magazine-type show to be produced by Barry Sands, David Letterman's former producer, in that time period ...

We mention this because Washington audiences continue to be twice the size of the national average for the show (about a 2 rating), a trend that began when the program debuted with Joan Rivers ...

And another Fox/WTTG phenomenon: Five's 10 o'clock news is doing well against the new shows being introduced by the Big Boys in that time slot the last couple of weeks ...

On both Monday and Tuesday nights of last week, Five's news beat out two of the three network series being offered ...

And how goes the Big Battle on Thursday night? Well, the combination of "The Cosby Show" and "A Different World" on NBC from 8 to 9 averaged a 29.0 national Nielsen rating and a 47 percent audience share last week (each rating point represents 886,000 TV homes) ...

CBS' big gamble, "Tour of Duty," averaged a 10.3/17 during the same hour, while ABC's combo of "Sledge Hammer!" and "The Charmings" averaged an 8.2/14 ...

The continued strength of the NBC comedy lineup ("Cheers" held on for a 26.1/41) helped the Johnny Carson 25th-anniversary special to a 23.8/39, the best for a Carson anniversary special since 1981 ...

CBS News may soon have three pilots elbowing one another for one of those increasingly hard-to-get primetime tryout time slots ...

Andrew Lack, executive producer of "West 57th," has submitted a mystery proposal to CBS News president Howard Stringer. Lack calls it "a totally new idea," which, for competitive reasons, he declines to elaborate on, beyond stressing "it's not a magazine" ...

With the CBS Entertainment schedule apparently under real pressure from ABC in the fight for second place this season, it will be interesting to see when, where and, indeed, if CBS News gets serious tryout time ...

Meanwhile, Stringer said Friday that a pilot has been completed for "Try to Remember," the Charles Kuralt-hosted show that would look at a recent week in history on a regular basis. No time has been set for an on-air tryout, however ...

And the appearance of a remake of Edward R. Murrow's "Person to Person" interview series, with Diane Sawyer as anchor, is now targeted for next season, Stringer hinted ...

While we're visiting CBS News, we should report that rumors keep surfacing in New York that Stringer hasn't given up hope that Bill Moyers might return to the network again ...

Stringer stressed Friday that "we're not in negotiations" but confessed, "I'm always hoping Bill could come back." The fact is, "CBS Evening News With Dan Rather" has been bereft of a commentator since Moyers left for New York's Channel 13 and a series of assignments for PBS programming late last year ...

And CBS News' newest anchor, Kathleen Sullivan, visited the West 57th headquarters for the first time Friday after bidding a kind farewell to ABC on that network's "Good Morning America" ...

She chatted up Dan Rather and "60 Minutes" executive producer Don Hewitt and met the "Morning News" staffers during her visit. She debuts on a revamped "Morning News" on Nov. 30 along with a still unnamed co-anchor ...

And today is the fifth anniversary of CBS News' "Nightwatch" ...

Charlie Rose has been host of the program over the past four years. Among the guests appearing during this week's anniversary celebration will be Vice President George Bush, White House Chief of Staff Howard Baker, author William Styron and New York Giants author Lawrence Taylor ...

Now This

And from the Why Do I Have the Nagging Feeling This One Would Never Have Left the Story Conference If Networks Were Still Carrying Cigarette Ads? file: The premiere episode of "L.A. Law" on Thursday, Oct. 15, called "The Lung Goodbye," features Kuzak (Harry Hamlin) taking on the tobacco companies on behalf of a man dying of cancer ...

At one point Kuzak says: "It may be a long shot, but cigarettes are as addictive as heroin and as deadly as poison. If the government's too chicken to put 'em out of business, someone's got to do it" ...

At the top of Thursday's 10 o'clock news on Channel 5 was the very big story of the day, a report on that morning's earthquake in the Los Angeles area ...

But that was followed by about 90 seconds from Pat McGrath on a meeting between Secretary of State George Shultz and visiting Soviet Foreign Minister Eduard A. Shevardnadze -- two weeks ago ...

A segment taped earlier Thursday by McGrath on the Bork hearings should have aired in that spot -- and eventually did show up later in the broadcast. Seems McGrath's key reports are kept on a single "historical tape" and a WTTG engineer cranked up the wrong item ...

Joe Saitta, WTTG news director, Friday called it "a major embarrassment" ...

Meanwhile, at Channel 7 Friday they were explaining why the ABC affiliate missed the first two network special reports on the L.A. quake Thursday morning. Seems ABC's "net alert" system failed to notify WJLA that the first, 10:58 a.m. report was coming up. Then, New York traffic at ABC assigned the 11:30 a.m. report to the wrong transponder and only pieces of it showed up on JLA's monitors. "Lots of stations complained to ABC about that one," a Seven spokesman said Friday ...

Channel 26 will not only air the "AIDS: Changing the Rules" special at 10 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 6, but will repeat it at 11 the first four weeknights of the next week and again at 2 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 13 ...

"It's an important documentary and we want to be sure that we reach a maximum number of sexually active young people," a WETA spokesman said Friday ...