CBS News today is expected to announce a new one-hour weekly primetime news program called "48 Hours" to be anchored by Dan Rather, and due to premiere early next year ...

Sources indicate that the News division will throw considerable resources into the weekly show, which will be devoted to a single, timely subject each week. No place in the schedule has so far been chosen for the program ...

The project reportedly has the strong backing of CBS Inc. chief executive officer Laurence Tisch. CBS Entertainment president B. Donald Grant has reportedly voiced his objections to the project ...

CBS Entertainment this season could face a close battle with ABC for second place in primetime behind NBC. The addition of a third news hour to that primetime schedule, considering the usually low ratings for such programs, could hurt CBS' chances in the race ...

The very special case of Sunday's high-rated CBS News "60 Minutes" aside, the CBS primetime schedule now also includes "West 57th" for an hour every Saturday at 10 p.m. In its two most recent outings, "West 57th" finished in 64th and 71st place in the weekly rankings, averaging a 7.2 national Nielsen rating and a 15 percent audience share (each rating point represents 886,000 TV homes) ...

It could not be learned yesterday whether the future of "West 57th" is threatened by the addition of "48 Hours" to the schedule ...

CBS News' recent success with such specials as "48 Hours on Crack Street," "The Soviet Union: Seven Days in May" and "The AIDS Crisis," all of which featured maximum use of correspondents and camera crews, apparently prompted the decision ...

No details were available but sources indicate that "48 Hours" would not curtail the News division's documentary schedule. Documentaries could fit into the still-unassigned time slot for the new program ...

CBS News has two half-hour weekly projects, "Try to Remember," a look at recent history hosted by Charles Kuralt, and a revival of "Person to Person," with Diane Sawyer, in the development stage ...

In addition, "West 57th" executive producer Andy Lack has submitted plans for a mystery project that is awaiting approval by CBS News president Howard Stringer. The status of those three projects, as well as that of "West 57th," could be affected by the arrival of "48 Hours," again because of reluctance by CBS Entertainment to surrender too many primetime hours to news shows ...

The final game of the St. Louis-San Francisco National League playoffs Wednesday night attracted a strong 21.5 national Nielsen rating and a 35 percent audience share on NBC ... the best rating of any game in the just-completed American League and National League playoff series ...

New York Gov. Mario Cuomo is featured on this morning's "Donahue" show (Channel 9 at 9 a.m.) ...

In the show, taped yesterday, Cuomo repeatedly dodges questions about a candidacy for the Democratic presidential nomination but concedes that if he weren't governor, he might run ...

He reveals that he is considering an offer from Cable News Network to be a commentator next summer at one of the political conventions ...

Also in the News ABC Entertainment said yesterday that two episodes of "Max Headroom," which b-b-b-bids adieu to the schedule with tonight's program, remain on the shelf but there are presently no plans to air them in the future ...

ABC's "Good Morning America" has scored its first outright win in the morning network race since the last week in September 1986, averaging a 4.5 Nielsen rating and a 22 percent audience share ...

For the week ending Oct. 9, NBC's "Today" show was second at 4.2/22, while CBS' "The Morning Program" was third at 2.2/11 ...

After the September 1986 victory by GMA, "Today" went on to run up a full year of weekly victories, usually by substantial (for morning programs) margins ...

But a month ago, Nielsen instituted its peoplemeter audience count and GMA closed in. Two weeks ago, GMA tied "Today" for first. And over the past four weeks, GMA has tied or won first twice, finished one-tenth of a ratings point behind the NBC show and even during the week "Today" was in China stayed within three-tenths of a point ...

Yesterday, GMA was crediting last week's return from maternity leave of Joan Lunden as Charlie Gibson's cohost for the win, with an assist from the new peoplemeters, which obviously are operating with a different viewer sample ...

Marty Ryan, executive producer of "Today," said yesterday that NBC research had warned him three months ago that the peoplemeters would have an adverse effect on his show's ratings. He expects the race for No. 1 in the morning to continue to be very close over the next few months ...

In the early hours of the day, with viewership low, a switch of as few as eight or nine peoplemeter homes can affect standings when the race is close ...

Moving Right Along ABC News' "Capital to Capital" special Wednesday night, linking Soviet officials and U.S. congressmen via live satellite for a newsmaking discussion of human rights, ran more than two hours ...

In the 15 major Nielsen markets, the program hosted by Peter Jennings in the United States averaged a 4.5 rating and a 17 share, compared with a 6.8/25 for NBC's late night programming and a 4.6/17 for the CBS lineup ...

The program aired simultaneously during the morning on Soviet television but overnightskis in Pinsk, Minsk and Moscow were unavailable yesterday ...

The Soviet audiences, incidentally, saw commercials for aspirin, wood polish, vacations in Hawaii, banking services and upcoming ABC programs during the broadcast ...

There is no advertising on the main Soviet TV program but ads are seen on one special program on the second Soviet channel ...

The first "Capital to Capital" broadcast a month ago did not have U.S. commercials ... although a few U.S. programs aired on Soviet TV have contained ads ...

Channel 7 has signed former Orioles catcher Rick Dempsey to team with Frank Herzog during the World Series. They'll broadcast live from the game sites each evening during the 5 p.m. newscasts. Rick batted .177 for Cleveland this past season ...

Black Entertainment Television, which can be seen on cable systems in Prince George's, Montgomery and Fairfax counties, will air a special, one-hour documentary on "AIDS in the Black Community" next Thursday, Oct. 22, at 7 p.m. ...

BETwill also provide a one-hour call-in program immediately following the broadcast hosted by BET anchor Paul Berry. U.S. Surgeon General C. Everett Koop has been invited to appear. An AIDS victim and a counselor will also be on the program to answer viewer call-ins. An 800 number will be provided for callers...

Cabaret artist Michael Feinstein will appear as himself on the Nov. 3 episode of ABC's "Thirtysomething." That night Michael and Hope (Ken Olin and Mel Harris) will treat themselves to a rare night out at an expensive nightclub, and Michael will play Gershwin's "But Not for Me" but just for them ...

ABC Entertainment seems to be on a guest star kick. Olympic gold medal winner Carl Lewis will appear on an upcoming "Perfect Strangers"; L.A. Laker Magic Johnson is due for three episodes of the upcoming "The Pursuit of Happiness"; former NFL star Dick Butkus will show up on a "Growing Pains"; and ex-Raider John Matuszak will appear on a future "The Charmings" episode ...

Ask Airwaves Dear Captain: Whatever happened to "Reading Rainbow" on WETA? (signed) Distraught Mother ...

Dear Distraught: PBS and WETA consider "Reading Rainbow" a summertime series. Last year, WETA tried it all year long but it wasn't successful with viewers (a spokesman said yesterday the station has received only one letter complaining since it went off the air in August). But "Reading Rainbow" will return next summer, maybe even in its old time slots at 11 a.m. and again at 5:30 p.m. ...

Dear Captain: Is it okay to think Bob Newhart isn't funny? (signed) Tough Sell ...

Dear Tough: Not really ...