Channel 7's weeknight weatherman, Dave Sweeney, has left the station ...

In recent weeks, Sweeney has received three attractive offers -- from WTVJ in Miami, the CBS affiliate that is now part of NBC's owned-station lineup; KUSA, the ABC affiliate in Denver; and a station in Albany, N.Y. ...

The Denver deal could allow Sweeney to make periodic appearances on ABC's "Good Morning America." He revealed that GMA weatherman Spencer Christian has suggested him as a possible substitute ...

Sweeney apparently has to make a choice by the end of next week ...

Sweeney was informed late last summer that his contract was not going to be renewed this fall, but news director Tom Doerr asked him to remain at least until December while they searched for a replacement ...

Sweeney said yesterday he had planned to say his goodbyes to Washington viewers on tomorrow night's broadcast. But Friday night, after the late newscast, Doerr told him he would feel "uncomfortable" with an over-the-air farewell, and that ended his stay with WJLA ...

Sweeney said that on tomorrow's broadcast he had planned to mention four people -- Kris Ostrowski (now assistant news director at Four) who as Seven's news director had brought him from Eugene, Ore., in September 1985; WAVA's "Morning Zoo" team of Don Geronimo and Mike O'Meara, who last February gave Sweeney what he called "the happiest day of my life" when he joined them on "Dave Sweeney Day"; and Seven anchor Wes Sarginson, whom he had chosen to "personify" the many friends he has made while working at the station ...

When word of his dismissal was reported here, viewers didn't hesitate to express their disapproval over the move with letters and phone calls. But Doerr stuck to his decision ...

Yesterday Sweeney said he "wanted to thank the wonderful people in this town who have supported me. I'm going to miss them all very very much. It's sad to leave and I've appreciated all the calls. I hope to come back and see a lot of you again" ...

A spokesman for Seven said yesterday that "for the time being, weekend weather anchor Nancy Russo, Fred Weiss and Alan Eustis will fill in for Dave" ...

Also in the News

The Redskins-Miami Dolphins NFL game Sunday night on Channel 9 attracted a 42.4 Nielsen rating and a 61 percent share of the primetime audience between 8 and 11:26 p.m. ...

That figures out to about 670,000 TV homes in the Washington area tuned in to the game ...

Indeed, it was so popular that a half hour after the game ended on Nine, CBS News' "Face the Nation," which is happy to attract 40,000 TV homes here on one of its rare daytime Sunday appearances, pulled in a 9.2/32, representing about 145,000 TV homes -- after midnight, yet ...

The rare Sunday night game was part of a late-season, eight-Sunday-night NFL package purchased by ESPN this fall that also gave the sports cable network rights to sell each game to an over-the-air station in both the home and away teams' markets ...

It was a bonanza for Nine, which as the CBS affiliate here is considered "the" Redskins station in the market. Details of what the station paid for the rights to the game (Nine outbid Channels 4 and 50 here) is a closely held secret, although estimates have ranged from $80,000 to $150,000 ...

But with the game, the station got 26 30-second spots to sell during the game -- at least twice the spots available to Nine if it had been carrying regular CBS Sunday night programming ...

And since Nine reportedly can command an estimated $10,000 for each 30-second spot sold on those regular, high-rated CBS Sunday night shows, it probably would be fair to assume that Nine was able to charge at least $15,000 per for the 'Skins game -- through 10 p.m., anyway, when viewership starts to fall off. We're talking $300,000 to $400,000 in local ad revenues here, TV Column fans ...

The game was the second-highest-rated 'Skins game of the season so far on Nine. The Giants game on Sunday afternoon Nov. 29 did a 42.7/66, but daytime ad rates, even for football-nutty Washington, should not be as high as Sunday primetime rates ...

For its part, ESPN probably appreciated the opportunity to showcase sports cable programming to such a large audience of potential cable users in the area ...

Also Sunday night, "Eyewitness News," which followed the game immediately on Nine, did a whopping 19.6/49 (309,000 TV homes) and "Murder, She Wrote," which started at 12:30 a.m. Monday, commanded an 8.4/42 (about 132,000 sleep-short homes) ...

Lots More Dots

Brad Grey, president of Brillstein Co., yesterday flatly denied reports circulating in New York that comedian Garry Shandling has any interest in taking over the late night Fox Broadcasting show, currently called "The Wilton North Report" ...

"He's turned Fox down a number of times for several very good reasons. First, he'd never, never go up against Johnny Carson on NBC. Johnny gave him his start and he appears on the show pretty regularly. Secondly, he has no interest whatsoever in a late night show. And third, a couple of networks are interested in 'The Garry Shandling Show' " (the sitcom that has done so well on Showtime cable) ...

Brillstein Co., a subsidiary of Lorimar, represents Shandling ...

NBC News has given the go-ahead for three one-hour "Meet the Press" specials as the political wars heat up early next year ...

Featuring major candidates, the specials will air Sunday, Feb. 7, preceding the Iowa caucuses; Feb. 14, before the New Hampshire primary; and March 6, just before "Super Tuesday" in the Southern states and elsewhere ...

Incidentally, with that move at WRC of "Sunday Today" to a 9 a.m. start time on Jan. 3, "Meet the Press" will show up at 10:30 a.m. in this market. NBC research predicts at least an 18 percent audience increase with the later start for the public affairs show ...

Although "Sunday Today" has plugged along with a 1.7 national Nielsen rating and a 10 percent share since its debut Sept. 20, the audiences during the 90 minutes have climbed and "Meet the Press" has done fairly well at 9:30 ...

"Sunday Today" will now compete head-to-head with CBS' "Sunday Morning" at 9 a.m. in this market, as well as on NBC-owned stations in New York, Chicago and Cleveland. Some of NBC's 200 affiliates, which will still be offered "Sunday Today" at 8 a.m., are expected to move the start time up, also. In some Western markets, the programs start at 7 a.m., when viewership is quite low ...

NBC News had originally hoped to compete directly with CBS' "Sunday Morning" starting in September, but affiliates had sought a 7 a.m. start. The 8 a.m. start was the compromise worked out ...

Network affiliates will undoubtedly notice that, with the "Meet the Press" specials, network programming will have a large, 2 1/2-hour presence on their stations on at least three Sunday mornings later this winter ...

"Beauty and the Beast" fans should note that tomorrow night at 9, their favorite CBS series will show up in the timeslot usually saved for "Magnum, P.I." This is a one-time appearance because of the Christmas lineup on Friday night, pre-empting "B&TB" ...

The pilot show, which will explain to latecomers how Catherine and Vincent met, will be seen at 8 p.m. on Jan. 1 (we've been told that a good cry is very good for hangovers, TV Column fans) ...

And Finally

To no one's surprise, NBC has announced that its owned-stations, including Channel 4 here, will scrap the "checkerboard" of five syndicated weeknight sitcoms in the 7:30 p.m. timeslot next fall in favor of "Family Feud" ...

Oddly enough, Four has done best among the five stations with the comedy lineup so far this year. In the November sweeps, the programs averaged an 8.8/17 in Washington, while stations in Los Angeles, New York, Cleveland and Chicago averaged a 6.9/11 ...

The sitcoms will continue until September ...