Maddie (Cybill Shepherd) returned to ABC's "Moonlighting" after a long pregnancy leave Tuesday night and surprise, surprise, the ratings went up! ...

In the national Nielsens, "Moonlighting" easily beat the competition at 9 p.m. with a 21.4 rating and a 32 percent share of the audience. Each rating points represents 886,000 TV homes ...

Washington was especially glad to have Maddie back. The show did a very large 25.7/38 on Channel 7, where each rating point represents 16,116 TV homes ...

On NBC nationally, meanwhile, Part I of a two-part "Hunter" did a 15.0/22 while CBS' "Jake and the Fatman" did an 11.8/18 ...

But did Maddie, amidst all those "dream sequences," really marry that guy she met on the train? ABC said yesterday it's up to us viewers to decide ...

The National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences (NATAS) and independent producers Raycom Inc. -- which specializes in regional sports hookups -- yesterday announced that the ninth annual Sports Emmy Awards will be telecast on an ad hoc national network the night of Tuesday, April 19 ...

The two-hour live event -- the first telecast of the sports Emmys ever -- will be aired on Channel 20 here, starting at 8 p.m. ...

The awards will be presented at ceremonies in the Sheraton Centre in New York...

Ken Haines, executive vice president of Raycom, said yesterday, "The networks have told us they will cooperate totally" in the awards ...

Network cooperation would be something of a switch. Over the years, the sports Emmys have been dogged by controversy, with various of the three big networks, year-to-year, refusing to give official backing to the awards, because they were still mad about something that had happened at the awards the previous year ...

(Who can forget the year the ABC and CBS sports divisions were enraged when NBC Sports won the top technical award for using a microphone in a golf match to enable viewers to hear the ball drop into the cup?) ...

The major complaint is usually over the method used by NATAS to come up with the finalists. A sorehead network attacks either the makeup of the annual jury picking the winners, the total number of awards, or the guidelines the jury uses to pick winners ...

And typically, the biggest annual complaint is over selection of the big cheese -- the top sportscaster of the year. It goes without saying that the losing networks always believe somebody in their shop deserved the prize ever so much more ...

But yesterday, Haines said details on jury selection, etc., are still to be worked out by NATAS and the networks, but he doesn't expect any trouble this time around ...

He predicted that 85 percent of the country will be covered by the telecast and said that besides WDCA in Washington, stations in Miami, Houston, Dallas and New Orleans yesterday signed up for the show within hours of the announcement ...

We're not about to take sides on this one, TV Column fans, but this is as good a spot as any to call your attention to a recent letter written to WNBC, NBC's flagship TV station in New York, by "Just a Concerned Listener" ...

The 6 p.m. news on WNBC concludes each night with a picture of the Emmy award it has won for the "third straight year ... as New York's outstanding news broadcast." The local news Emmys are picked (as in Washington) by various chapters of NATAS from around the country every year ...

At the bottom of the WNBC Emmy picture, in tiny letters, is the required NATAS copyright mark ...

"Just a Concerned Listener" pointed out to the station that NATAS spelled backwards is "SATAN" and promised "I will not turn Channel 4 on until it is gone" ...

Well, you've got to admit it's something to think about, but a spokesman for WNBC said yesterday the station has no plans to change its promotional ad ...

Also in the News

Poor CBS News! The furor over the Rather-Bush firefight last week had barely died down Tuesday when correspondent Bob McNamara, reporting from Denver on the letdown there after the Broncos' loss to the Redskins in the Super Bowl, had this to say on the "CBS Evening News with Dan Rather":

"For a town that's never been number one in anything but carbon monoxide levels, the Broncos' second Super Bowl loss in a row was doubly depressing" ...

Denver didn't like "the Big Mac Attack" one bit -- it was a front-page story in The Denver Post yesterday, topped by a six-column headline that read, "CBS Slur at Denver Brings Rash of Protests" ...

The Post reported that the switchboard at KMGH, the local CBS affiliate, was swamped for two hours, while other callers "registered protests at City Hall and the governor's office" ...

On last night's broadcast, McNamara hastened to remind "CBS Evening News" viewers that, among other things, the cheeseburger and the ice cream soda were invented in the Mile High City; Denver's arena football franchise won the national title last year; and the city is the home of the world's biggest laundromat (300 machines) and biggest stock show ...

CBS even got help from President Reagan last night in making amends, including a clip from Reagan's visit with the all-conquering Redskins at the White House earlier in the day in which Mr. Reagan pointed out that "being number two in the NFL is also something to be proud of" ...

McNamara himself signed off with a "so wait till next year. Go Broncos" ...

Now This

Walter C. Miller, an administrative law judge at the Federal Communications Commission, yesterday gave Tom-Tom Communications Inc. permission to build a new FM radio station in Rapid City, S.D. ...

One of the Toms in Tom-Tom Communications Inc. is NBC anchor Tom Brokaw. The other Tom is Tom Kearns, who operates KTOQ-AM in Rapid City, which he and Brokaw purchased 10 years ago. Majority stockholder Brokaw said yesterday that no date has been set for adding the FM operation. It is the only broadcast property he owns ...

The original purchase made news a decade ago when the local bank issuing a loan to the partners got help from the Small Business Administration. It was soon learned that the SBA funds came from an appropriation set aside specifically for minority broadcasters. Learning of the fund source, Brokaw and Kearns quickly obtained other backing and the SBA loan was canceled ...

One of the four dogs appearing in the Best of the Stupid Pet Tricks segment of "David Letterman's 6th Anniversary" primetime special tonight (Channel 4, 9:30) is Buford, who lives in Alexandria. ...

Buford will be the dog who jumps into an aquarium for rocks. Buford, who is owned by tractor-trailer driver John Dooley, usually dives into a pool for his rocks but the stage at Radio City Music Hall, big as it is, wasn't big enough for a pool ...

Buford, a doberman-shepherd mix, was previously on Letterman's late night show back in July 1985 ...

A spokesperson for the Cable News Network reported yesterday that the network's Atlanta headquarters had received almost 300 phone calls between 8 p.m. Tuesday and noon yesterday regarding CNN's live telecast of President Reagan's appeal for contra funds -- which the three big networks refused to carry ...

"The calls were almost unanimous thanking CNN for carrying the president's speech," said the spokesperson ...

CBS' "Falcon Crest" is planning a four-segment story in which Maggie Gioberti (Susan Sullivan) copes with a growing drinking problem ...

Marilyn Beck reports that Sullivan suggested the story because of her childhood as the daughter of an alcoholic. Because of her father's drinking problem, Sullivan told Beck, she was "a little girl who became an adult at 4 1/2, who said she was always going to be in control" ...

As for her upcoming role on the series, she says, "I wanted to show how easy it is for women to pick up a drink or two to deaden the pain, when you just don't want to deal with a problem. And to show how, when you're alcoholic, you just don't see how you're disregarding your children. You just don't hear them the same way" ...