Tom Cookerly, who has been general manager of Channel 7 for 16 years, is taking a new job as president of Allco Corp., anAllbritton Communications company formed last year to acquire new TV stations ...

Cookerly will remain as president of the Broadcast Division of Allbritton Communications. WJLA-TV, the ABC affiliate here, is one of five Allbritton-owned stations. Allco Corp. reportedly has plans to spend up to $1 billion acquiring as many as seven more network affiliates around the country ...

Cookerly said yesterday he will not leave WJLA until he has picked a new general manager, which he expects to do within a month. In the past several years, Cookerly has also been president of WJLA, and his successor will have both titles ...

Although Cookerly declined to tip his hand, speculation among local broadcasters yesterday about his successor centered on John Garwood, GM of the Allbritton-owned station in Tulsa, and at least two WJLA executives -- Jim Griffin, vice president and director of broadcasting, and John Long, vice president and director of sales ...

Cookerly's departure marks the second major change at the top of one of Washington's major TV stations in the past week ...

On Dec. 1, Jerry Nachman resigned as vice president and general manager of NBC-owned WRC for personal reasons and was replaced by Allan Horlick ...

During Cookerly's long tenure, the station has been consistently successful with the ABC schedule, despite the fact that except for the halcyon days of 1978-80, when ABC led the primetime race, that network has usually struggled for audiences in other sections of the country ...

In recognition, Cookerly was elected chairman of the ABC Affiliates board of governors for a year in 1983 ...

Local broadcasting sources yesterday credited Cookerly's involvement in Washington community affairs over the years with a large part of the station's success, including its production of award-winning local programming ...

Cookerly helped found the Neediest Kids Inc., and currently serves as president of the charity. He established the "Seven On Your Side" consumer help segment in local news and "Seven Salutes Seven Who Care," a program that honors outstanding community service every year. He also serves on the board of directors of the United Way ...

In 1984, he received the Board of Governors Award from the Washington Chapter of the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences for "outstanding achievements in the Washington community" ...

But for all his financial and civic achievements at the station, Cookerly has never been able to push WJLA to the forefront of the local news race, which during his stay has been dominated -- except for a brief run by WRC a couple of years ago -- by Channel 9 ...

Even during the late '70s, when ABC had a lock on daytime and primetime ratings, the station couldn't translate that to lasting success in the early evenings or at 11 p.m. (It must be said that WRC's various GMs haven't fared any better) ...

By his own estimate, in his efforts to find a winning formula, Cookerly has tried seven different news directors over the years, although the current tenant, Tom Doerr, seems to be settling in for the long haul ...

Cookerly took over the station in 1971, when it was still owned by the Evening Star newspaper group, with the call letters WMAL. In 1974, financier Joseph Allbritton purchased the station and changed its call letters to match his initials ...

Yesterday Cookerly told a reporter, "I guess I'm most proud of serving the community with a locally owned station that has been responsive to the needs of this community ...

"I'm leaving the station with the most professional staff we've ever had, a real solid staff. But there's a time to go and I guess this is it. I hate to give up the exciting, day-to-day business of running a successful station, but Allco is a great opportunity" ...

Besides WJLA here, Allbritton Communications owns TV stations in Little Rock, Tulsa, Lynchburg, Va., and Charleston, S.C., as well as three daily newspapers ...

And, While

We're talking presidents and general managers, the Gannett Co. Inc. has named Ron Townsend, the head of WUSA here, the "Gannett Manager of the Year" ...

Channel 9 is the top-rated CBS affiliate in the country and is one of eight TV stations owned by the publishing and broadcasting giant ...

And still another Gannett Scooperoo: the Rumour Du Jour out of the West Coast whispers that ABC Entertainment is expected to announce it has signed for a one-hour comedy-drama series from GTG Entertainment, headed by former NBC boss Grant Tinker in partnership with Gannett ...

Under terms of a deal GTG has with CBS, that network gets first call on series development from the company. CBS apparently turned this series down because it had a similar project already in the works ...

CBS Entertainment has ordered four more episodes of "The Law and Harry McGraw," which disappears from the regular schedule after Dec. 29. The new episodes, bringing "Harry's" total to 15, plus a two-hour pilot, will air sometime in the late season ...

CBS has also ordered nine more episodes of "Houston Knights," which moves to Saturday at 9, starting Jan. 2. That makes a full season of 22 episodes for "Houston Knights" ...

And NBC Entertainment has announced that "Late Night With David Letterman" has been renewed for a sixth season ...

"CBS Evening News With Dan Rather" finished first in the network news race for the 11th week in a row with a 12.0 rating and a 21 percent audience share. Tied for second with identical 11.0/19 records were "NBC Nightly News With Tom Brokaw" and "ABC World News Tonight With Peter Jennings" ...

1...24.9...The Cosby Show...38...NBC

....24.9...A Different World..38.NBC

3...23.7...The Golden Girls..41..NBC

4...23.5...Cheers...........36...NBC

5...22.5...Growing Pains....34...ABC

6...22.2...Night Court......35...NBC

7...21.8...60 Minutes.......35...CBS

8...21.3...Who's the Boss?..33...ABC

9...20.7...Moonlighting....32....ABC

10..19.9..NFL Raiders/Seahawks.33..ABC

11..19.5..A Hobo's Christmas..30..CBS

12..19.4..Murder, She Wrote..29...CBS

13..19.3....Family Ties......28...NBC

14..19.0.....Amen............33....NBC

15..18.7.....L.A. Law.......34....NBC

16..18.0........227..........32...NBC

17..17.8....Hooperman........29....ABC

18..17.1....Head of the Class..27..ABC

19..16.7......Dallas.........28....CBS

....16.7..The Secret Garden..26....CBS

NBC continued to Rule the Roost in the eleventh week of the new season, compiling a 15.3 rating and a 25 percent audience share. CBS was second with 13.0/21, a nose ahead of ABC at 12.8/21 ...

CBS and ABC remained tied for second in the season-to-date count ...

Despite tight security around the Primetime Pantheon yesterday, a short line of petitioners appeared before police shooed them away. In the hubbub that followed, we noticed discarded, if tattered, placards espousing NBC's "Downpayment on Murder," which finished in a tie for 23rd last week; NBC's "Fatal Confession," 26th; and the ABC special about Dar Robinson, "The Ultimate Stuntman," 38th ...

Watching forlornly in the drizzle from the parking lot across from the Pantheon (at the corner of Tartikoff Terrace and LeMasters Lane) were representatives from CBS' "Simon & Simon," which returned to the schedule in 48th place; CBS' "All Star Party for Joan Collins" (Joan's hair could have used a fix), which tied for 52nd; and the NBC News presidential debate on Tuesday, which finished 58th ...

The Final And Unless You Came Out Of The News Division Undoubtedly Fatal Five included CBS' "West 57th," in 66th, followed, in order, by Sunday's "Jennings/Koppel Report" on ABC; CBS' "Houston Knights"; "CBS Reports: Children of Apartheid"; and CBS' "The Twilight Zone," barely visible in 70th and last place for the week ending Dec. 6 ...