They matched the two biggest games in town -- the Washington Redskins and politics -- on local TV Monday night and the politicians did a Custer ...

While the Skins were losing to the Rams on Channel 7, the six Democratic contenders for the presidential nomination were seen, to use the word loosely, on Channel 5, in a debate taped in Boston Saturday morning ...

In the 90 minutes they were head-to-head, between 9:30 and 11 p.m., the Skins were watched in 665,700 area households, on 61 percent of the TV sets then in use ...

The Democrats, on the other hand, were seen in 33,285 homes, on 3 percent of the sets in use ...

That represents respective Nielsen ratings of 42 and 2.1 ...

For the night, on Channel 7, the game averaged a 40 Nielsen rating (representing 634,000 homes) and a 65 percent audience share between 9 p.m. and 12:30 a.m. Tuesday ...

ABC had no national figures late last night but said that in the 15 major Nielsen markets the game averaged a 19.8/30 between 9 and 11 p.m. ...

New York mayor Ed Koch will occupy "the roving chair" Saturday evening when he joins regulars Robert Novak, Jack Germond and Morton Kondracke on "The McLaughlin Group" (Channel 4, 7:30) ...

Hizzoner is expected to contribute his expertise on the upcoming primaries ...

"CBS This Morning" will finally make its debut Monday at 7 a.m. ...

And yesterday, film director and scholar Peter ("The Last Picture Show," "Mask") Bogdanovich was added to the cast of regulars ...

He'll probably appear every Friday with tips on classic movies now available for videocassette rentals ...

So, except for a critic-at-large, still to be named, executive producer David Corvo pretty much has his new crew ready to go ...

Former ABC News anchor Kathleen Sullivan and CBS Dallas correspondent Harry Smith will co-anchor the two-hour broadcast. The daily contributors will include Jim Lampley, sports; Mark McEwen, weather; Ken Prewitt, business and economic news; Dr. Robert Arnot, medical news; and Erin Moriarty on consumer affairs ...

Charles Osgood and Faith Daniels, who will anchor the "CBS Morning News" from 6 to 7 a.m., will also handle the news chores between 7 and 9 a.m., rotating the assignments on the half hour each day ...

The mood at CBS News is on the upswing after a couple of years of job and program cutbacks. But CBS News president Howard Stringer, surveying the prospects of the new morning program, was just a tad more than (dare we dip into the cliche' bin?) cautiously optimistic yesterday about his latest addition to the schedule ...

"We're not going to be the victim of soaring expectations," said Stringer. After 19 previous experiments by CBS News in the morning hours, none of them very successful, there is almost nothing new CBS can try that ABC's "Good Morning America" and NBC's "Today" haven't already patented ...

"The other two {morning shows} are very good," he admitted. "We're concentrating on being more flexible with our information. And at the start, realistically, we probably won't be able to get the heavyweight celebrities" ...

Snatching a quote from Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, the German TV pioneer, Stringer warned that "everything has been thought of before, but the problem is to think of everything again" ...

One big point -- the network has given the show an "open-ended commitment" regarding the potential life of the show, which reduces pressure on the new team considerably. Already, Stringer likes the morale and enthusiasm of the new crew. "Harry is making friends very quickly," Stringer said. "He's very versatile, he has an easy manner and he knows who he is. He and Kathleen and David have gotten off to a very comfortable start" ...

He said the set, which shares space in Studio 47 in midtown Manhattan with the set for the "Evening News," will contain "the odd plant," but otherwise will be "fairly contemporary, with no audience; intimate, rather colorful, rather Western" ...

The show will open with a variation on the "majestic, pastoral" musical theme just introduced on the "Evening News" as a montage of scenes of "people at work and play" from around the United States soothes early morning viewers ...

Added Corvo: "There is no shortcut to this, no gimmick, we'll work hard on every segment. And except for Lampley, all of our people will be full-time" ...

A Reminder That the annual pre-Christmas alms talks will begin again soon on public TV ...

Channel 26 launches its 10-day fund-raising drive Friday night, seeking $450,000 and promising big prizes every night! ...

Channel 32 gets under way Sunday night and concludes its drive on Saturday, Dec. 12. The Howard University station is seeking 3,500 new members to add to current rolls of about 8,000. No money goal has been set. WHMM will kick off proceedings with a Ray Charles concert taped a couple of years ago at Constitution Hall and conclude the drive with concerts by the Temptations and the Pointer Sisters. As usual, one evening will be devoted to gospel singing ...

The Maryland public TV system also starts its 13-day drive on Friday night. It's seeking 6,000 new members to add to the current count of 55,000. Again, no money goal is set but in the past the average pledge has been about $50 ...

"CBS Evening News With Dan Rather" won the network news race for the ninth week in a row, with a 12.1 Nielsen rating and a 21 percent audience share. "ABC World News Tonight With Peter Jennings" was second at 11.4/20, while "NBC Nightly News With Tom Brokaw" was third at 11.1/20 ...

The National Association of Broadcasters says its Television and Radio Political Action Committee (TARPAC) distributed a total of $237,000 in support money during the 1984-86 "election cycle" to 31 candidates for the U.S. Senate and to 112 candidates for the House ...

This year, TARPAC has distributed about $110,000 to 15 Senate and 98 House candidates ...

..rating.............share

1: 31.0-The Cosby Show 47 NBC

2: 28.2-A Different World 43 NBC

3: 26.4-Cheers 41 NBC

4: 26.1-Night Court 40 NBC

5: 23.2-60 Minutes 37 CBS

5: 23.2-Growing Pains 35 ABC

7: 22.8-Murder, She Wrote 33 CBS

8: 22.1-Who's the Boss? 35 ABC

9: 21.7-The Golden Girls 37 NBC

10: 21.3-Poor/Rich Girl I 33 NBC

11: 21.2-NFL Chi.-Denver 37 ABC

12: 20.9-Gambler III I 32 CBS

13: 20.3-L.A. Law 34 NBC

14: 19.7-ALF 30 NBC

15: 19.2-Moonlighting 30 ABC

16: 18.9-Family Ties 27 NBC

17: 18.5-Poor/Rich Girl II 30 NBC

18: 18.3-Hunter 35 NBC

19: 18.0-Amen 31 NBC

20: 17.5-227 30 NBC

20: 17.5-Perfect Strangers 29 ABC

20: 17.5-Head of the Class 28 ABC

20: 17.5-Valerie's Family 26 NBC

NBC cleaned the boards last week, averaging a 17.3 rating and a 28 percent audience share, far ahead of CBS at 13.8/22 and ABC at 12.6/21 ...

The big win guaranteed victory in the November ratings sweeps for NBC, already the season-to-date leader, while CBS is a cinch for second and ABC is third (ABC leads CBS in season-to-date, however) ...

ABC's "Dolly," despite competition from "The Gambler III" and "The Empire Strikes Back" on NBC, finished in a tie for 26th, up four rating points from the previous week, its best showing in five weeks ...

"Empire" finished 32nd. NBC's "Miami Vice," featuring Sonny's marriage, was 24th for the week ending Nov. 22 ...

ABC had six places in last week's Final And Barring A Presidential Pardon Probably Fatal Five Plus Two, starting with "Ohara" in 64th, and followed, in order, by the new "Pursuit of Happiness"; CBS' "West 57th"; "Sledge Hammer!"; "The Charmings"; the ABC Thursday night movie, "The King of Love"; and the new "Sable," wrapped in 70th and last place ...