Keeping our priorities straight this morning, TV Column fans, we must first report that the Washington Redskins-New York Giants game on Channel 9 Sunday afternoon achieved a 42.7 Nielsen rating and was seen on 66 percent of the sets-in-use in the Washington area between 4 and 7:30 p.m. ...

Since each rating point represents 15,851 TV homes, the Official Airwaves Abacus indicates the 'Skins were seen in 675,000 local households ...

Channel 26 yesterday won an indefinite reprieve from the Howard County cable company that last week threatened to remove the Virginia-based public TV station from its system, starting today ...

WETA last week learned that Howard Cable Television Associates, a subsidiary of Storer Cable Communications (itself a subsidiary of SCI Holdings Inc., if you're still with us), was going to drop the station -- while keeping Channel 67 of the Maryland public television system and Howard University's Channel 32 on the system ...

Yesterday, Todd Spoeri, senior vice president for the Northeast region for Storer, said that WETA has since presented Nielsen survey figures indicating that Channel 26's "impact is far greater than we had believed ...

"Our own surveys had rated WETA very near the bottom in viewership. After looking at their figures we decided maybe we're making a mistake. We are going to take the time to look at it again. We'd like to keep them on" ...

He said the decision to add VH One, an adult music video channel, as of tomorrow, still stands. Spoeri hinted that when PTL leaves the Howard system in mid-January, "with a little maneuvering, maybe a way could be found to keep WETA on permanently while still adding the other channels we want" ...

WETA, which has access to about 60 cable systems in Maryland and Virginia, mounted an ad and telephone campaign late last week on learning of the Howard Cable decision. Spoeri said that campaign did not figure as importantly in the decision as the figures presented by WETA researchers, however ...

"It's terribly important that we make the right decision in something like this," Spoeri said yesterday. "Their viewers are our customers, after all" ...

He said the WETA research indicated the public station reaches about 50 percent of the audience reached by network affiliates on the system ...

Speaking of Channel 26, the first three nights of the current alms talks had raised $175,235 on 3,335 pledges. The annual pre-Christmas fund-raising drive began Friday night with the first of two "Celebrating Gershwin" tributes, which raised $27,000 ...

Also in the News

Fox Broadcasting yesterday postponed the debut last night of its new late night show, "The Wilton North Report" ... apparently in order to give its writers a better chance to get acquainted with the show's new anchor team ...

Fox said it hopes to get the new show on the air in two weeks. Meanwhile, "encores" of "The Late Show" with Arsenio Hall will continue in the 11:30 p.m. timeslot on Channel 5 here ...

Two weeks ago, Fox announced that the comedy team of Paul Robins and Phil Cowan would host the show. The pair had been hosting a radio show in Sacramento ...

Yesterday, executive producer Barry Sand said that "because of the time it took to find the anchors we wanted, we've only had one week together. We asked Fox for a little extra time to get better acquainted and they told us to take it" ...

Taking the words right out of our mouth, Jamie Kellner, president of Fox Broadcasting, said, "In the long run, it doesn't matter whether it debuts now or in two weeks. When Barry Sand tells us he's ready, we're ready" ...

NBC's "Today" show broke a six-week losing streak and returned to first place in the morning network race with a 4.8 national Nielsen rating and a 23 percent audience share for the week ending Nov. 20 ...

ABC's "Good Morning America" slipped back to second with a 4.4/21 while CBS' "The Morning Program," a week away from Oblivion, did a 2.1/10 ...

A whole lot of dotskis: a non-Kremlin gremlin sneaked into our long distance communications with NBC News Sunday ... and somehow identified Soviet General Secretary Mikhail Gorbachev as a native of Georgia. As even Gospodin Airwaves knows, the Soviet leader is a Russian, born in Stavropol ...

ABC Entertainment announced yesterday that Lee Remick will host a program about the late Marilyn Monroe, called "Remembering Marilyn," which will air sometime this season ...

Among the guests offering personal reminiscences will be Robert Wagner, Gloria Steinem, Robert Mitchum and Susan Strasberg ...

Local Ratingzzzz II

Let's take a further look at the November "sweeps" results in the Washington market this morning, TV Column fans. Although the Arbitron and Nielsen figures don't match (Nielsen favors Channel 9, which is why Channel 9 favors Nielsen, of course), our figures yesterday made it evident that WUSA is still in charge of the news races here ... and even regained the lead in both books at 11 p.m. ...

Meanwhile, Channel 7 news remains competitive, Channel 4 is showing some progress (certainly compared with a few years back) and Channel 5's news is moving up strongly ...

Otherwise, compared with last November, WJLA has gained strength in the morning, "Oprah Winfrey" has helped WUSA a lot in the afternoon; and in the primetime access, "Entertainment Tonight" has moved up well, and "M*A*S*H" is losing steam, but slowly ...

Here are some additional figures, with the Arbitron ratings first, followed by Nielsen (each ARB rating point represents 16,036 homes, Nielsen, 15,851) ...

For instance, from sign-on to sign-off, seven days a week, Channel 9, the CBS affiliate, leads both the Arbitron and Nielsen books ...

In ARB, WUSA delivered an 8 rating and a 22 percent audience share, followed by ABC affiliate WJLA at 7/20, Fox Broadcasting's WTTG at 6/18, NBC-owned WRC at 5/15, and independent WDCA at 2/6 ...

In Nielsen, WUSA leads at 9/24, followed by WJLA at 7/19, WRC at 7/18, WTTG at 6/16 and WDCA at 2/5 ...

In primetime, Monday through Sundays, according to ARB, WRC's NBC schedule led with a 13/23, with WJLA (ABC) at 12/22, WUSA (CBS) at 12/21 and WTTG (with Fox programming on weekends) at 8/14 ...

In Nielsen, WRC led with 15/25, followed closely by WUSA at 15/23, WJLA at 13/20 and WTTG at 9/14 ...

From 9 a.m. to noon on weekdays, according to ARB, WJLA is first with 5/25, followed by WUSA at 5/22, WTTG at 4/17 and WRC at 2/9 ...

In Nielsen, WUSA takes over with a 5/22, followed by WJLA at 5/20, WTTG at 4/18 and WRC at 4/17 ...

From 12:30 p.m. to 4 p.m. weekdays, in ARB, WJLA and the ABC soaps lead with a 7/28, followed by WUSA at 6/24 and WRC at a 3/11 ...

In Nielsen, WJLA leads at 8/29, followed by WUSA at 6/22 and WRC at 4/13 ...

In late night, Mondays through Fridays, in ARB, "Nightline" on WJLA is tops with a 6/20, followed by "Divorce Court" on WUSA with 6/17, "The Tonight Show" on WRC at 5/16 and WTTG's "The Late Show" at 5/15 ...

In Nielsen, "Divorce Court" leads at 8/22, followed by "The Tonight Show" at 7/21, "Nightline" at 6/16 and "The Late Show" with 4/14 ...