Karen Burnes, a top investigative reporter for ABC News, is moving to CBS and the "West 57th" magazine program, as of the first of the year ...

It is expected that she will replace Jane Wallace on the program. Wallace is a top candidate for one of the anchor spots on the "USA Today" syndicated show debuting next fall. Wallace's contract with CBS News expires at the end of the year ...

Wallace, an original member of the "West 57th" team, reportedly balked at the substantial travel involved with the magazine show. She will complete three or four segments now in the works before leaving CBS, according to sources ...

Burnes had also been considering offers from NBC News and the Christian Science Monitor, which has a TV news program in the planning stage ...

Burnes has been part of the "ABC family" most of her life. Her father, Jim Burnes, was an ABC correspondent who died of a heart attack in 1970 at the age of 42, and she first joined the network as a desk assistant in New York in 1976, while still attending Fordham University at night ...

She transferred two years later to the Washington ABC News bureau, where she became an associate producer for evening news. After 2 1/2 years, she became a producer for "20/20." In 1984 she was named a correspondent. Winner of two Emmys and an Overseas Press Club Award, she covered the famine in Ethiopia and the Iran-contra investigation, during which she is credited with breaking the story of secret fund-raising efforts by Carl Spitz Channel to buy guns for the contras ...

"She will be a significant loss," one ABC executive said yesterday. In the past year ABC News has also lost Charles Gibson to "Good Morning America" and Kathleen Sullivan to CBS News. All three had big futures with the ABC News division. A large boost in salary and a chance to work on a series that might -- just might -- have a long future on the CBS schedule lured Burnes away, although she admitted yesterday that it was hard to leave the network where she had worked so long ...

Which reminds us of those rumors we keep hearing that Gibson still hasn't signed a contract as co-anchor of ABC's "Good Morning America." Gibson replaced David Hartman on the show in late February, but negotiations involving his departure from ABC News had begun in 1986. In recent weeks, with a boost from Nielsen's new peoplemeter ratings service, Gibson and Joan Lunden have put GMA back on top in the morning network race ...

In Other News

"Poor Little Rich Girl," which is about as good as a network miniseries ever gets (empty ostentation is the one subject Hollywood really knows something about) debuted on NBC Monday with a 21.3 national Nielsen rating and a 33 percent audience share between 9 and 11 p.m. ...

During the same two hours, the ABC Monday Night Football game twixt Denver and Chicago averaged a 21.6/33 and wound up sometime early Tuesday morning with a 21.1/37 overall ...

In football-mad D.C., the game averaged a 21.9/36 on WJLA, while "Poor" on WRC averaged an 18.0/27 ...

When the House subcommittee on telecommunications opens a hearing on public broadcasting this morning, witnesses will include John Wicklein of Ohio State University; Sharon Percy Rockefeller of the PBS board; Henry Hampton, producer of "Eyes on the Prize"; Raymond Ho, head of Maryland Public TV; William Kling, president of Minnesota Public Radio; Robert Larson, president and GM of WTVS-TV in Detroit; William Siemering, executive producer of "Soundprint" at WJHU-FM in Baltimore; and CPB board chairman Howard Gutin ...

The hearing is "tentatively scheduled" for 9:30 a.m. in Room 2123 of the Rayburn House Office Building ...

At anchor Tom Brokaw's request, NBC president Bob Wright sat down with members of the "NBC Nightly News" staff over lunch last week in an effort to deal with reports of "morale" problems at the unit. Our sources say he talked turkey to them about the changing financial environment in network news, but reassured them that network news continues to play a very important role in the company ...

Some of the grumblers still didn't like what they heard, but Brokaw, caught in the middle, reportedly was pleased that Wright had taken the time to sit down with them ...

So saying, "CBS Evening News" was first in the weekly ratings with a 12.6 Nielsen rating and a 22 percent audience share, followed by a resurgent "NBC Nightly News" at 11.3/20 and "ABC World News Tonight" with an 11.1/19. Both CBS and NBC recorded their highest ratings since last April ...

NBC has renewed "Crime Story" for a full 22-episode season. Through the week ending Nov. 8, the Tuesday entry was tied for 47th among 78 network series tried so far this season, with a 12.2/22 ...

And CBS Entertainment will bring "Simon & Simon" back to the schedule in the Thursday 9 p.m. time slot, starting Dec. 3 ...

The current occupant, "Wise Guy," will move to a still undetermined new time slot, once the holiday specials are out of the way (after poor Sonny Steelgrave microwaved himself in the warehouse last week, they're going to have to figure out a new undercover assignment for Vinnie, anyway) ...

The Christian Broadcasting Network, which earlier this year laid off 500 employes because of a drop in contributions, has announced that another 145 workers will be laid off, reducing its worldwide workforce to 1,174. In further cost cutting, the Virginia Beach-based network will also sell its corporate jet and phase out its support of the conservative National Legal Foundation ...

The layoffs could save CBN $9 million by next March, according to a spokesman. The organization is now run by Timothy Robertson, who took over after his father, Pat Robertson, began his run for the Republican presidential nomination ...

1 33.9 The Cosby Show 51 NBC

2 26.4 Cheers 40 NBC

3 25.0 Growing Pains 37 ABC

4 24.7 Night Court 38 NBC

5 23.7 60 Minutes 36 CBS

6 23.4 Who's the Boss? 36 ABC

7 22.2 The Golden Girls 39 NBC

8 22.1 Billionaire Boys II 34 NBC

9 20.9 Mayflower Madam 34 CBS

10 20.8 Murder, She Wrote 31 CBS

11 20.1 L.A. Law 33 NBC

12 18.9 ALF 28 NBC

18.9 Head of the Class 28 ABC

14 18.7 227 33 NBC

15 18.6 Napoleon/Josephine I 30 ABC

16 18.1 Perfect Strangers 28 ABC

18.1 Family Ties 27 NBC

18 18.0 Hunter 35 NBC

19 17.8 Amen 32 NBC

20 17.3 Dallas 29 CBS

NBC took Monday, Thursday and Saturday nights to finish first again in the weekly rankings with a 17.1 rating and a 28 percent share of the audience ...

CBS and ABC finished in a tie for second with 13.5/22. The tie put CBS firmly in charge of second place in both the Arbitron and Nielsen November sweeps, ahead of ABC, although CBS trails ABC for the season-to-date ...

Even despite the rain yesterday, the line of supplicants outside the Primetime Pantheon included representatives of NBC's "Perry Mason," which finished 22nd; Part II of ABC's "Napoleon and Josephine," in 26th; and the ABC Monday Night Football game between Seattle and the Jets, in 28th ...

The conclusion of "Napoleon and Josephine" was 38th, while a primetime showing of "Pee-wee's Playhouse" on CBS tied for 56th, suggesting America isn't quite ready for the scrapheap, after all ...

Last week's Final And In Most Cases Fatal Five Plus Two included ABC's "Hotel," in 64th, followed, in descending order, as it were, by CBS' "Houston Knights," ABC's new "Sable," ABC's "Sledge Hammer!," the CBS Saturday movie "Dead Man's Folly," CBS' "West 57th" and ABC's "The Charmings," DOA in 70th and last place for the week ending Nov. 15 ...