Channel 26's Thursday night telecast of the Democratic presidential candidates' debate from Dallas barely drew a quorum, averaging a 0.9 Nielsen rating and a 2 percent share of the Washington area audience between 10 and midnight ...

That means the Dems were watched in just 14,900 of the 1.6 million TV households waiting to be entertained around here that night ...

Results of the Friday night telecast of the Republican presidential candidates (only George Bush and Jack Kemp showed up for that one) will be available today. Both debates were sponsored by The Dallas Morning News and Texas Monthly ...

Channel 9 yesterday began its taped noontime telecast of CBS' "Face The Nation" with more than five minutes from the tape of the previous week's show out of New Hampshire, as anchor Lesley Stahl previewed the Feb. 16 primary ...

When engineers finally realized the mistake, they switched to a tape of yesterday's broadcast as Stahl questioned Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin about Israeli forces on the West Bank. CBS News broadcasts the Washington-based show at 10:30 a.m. on Sundays to its affiliates around the country...

Brian Boitano's triumph in men's figure skating -- giving the U.S. its first gold medal of the Winter Olympics -- proved to be a boon for ABC Saturday night, as the network racked up a 23.3 overnight Nielsen rating and a 38 percent audience share in the 15 major markets during primetime ...

That was good enough to beat NBC's comedy lineup, which averaged a slim 14.5/23 in the big cities. Poor CBS averaged only a 5.9/10 for the evening ...

The skating competition between Boitano and Canada's Brian Orser (who had to settle for the silver) even prompted hundreds of phone calls to ABC in New York from viewers complaining of too much hockey! ...

ABC proudly countered yesterday that at one point in all the Saturday night excitement, the network went 25 minutes without a commercial, during a longer period of 40 minutes in which only 1 1/2 minutes were devoted to ads! ...

Friday night, ABC's Olympic coverage did a 15.3/25 in the 15-city overnights, compared with a 14.2/23 for CBS and an 11.2/18 for NBC ...

ABC's Thursday night telecast of the Winter Olympics ran into Bill Cosby and the rest of NBC's powerful regular lineup that night and came away with only a silver in the national Nielsen ratings...

NBC took the gold with a 19.3/29 between 8 and 11 p.m. ABC scored an 18.9/28, while CBS got the bronze with a 13.3/20 ...

Team ABC Research, which has already cinched a gold in the Silver Lining Uphill, pointed out Friday that the Thursday results produced the second-highest Thursday ratings for the network since the World Series ...

Locally, the Games Thursday did an 18.7/28 on Channel 7 here, finishing second behind WRC (NBC) with 20.2/30 and WUSA (CBS) at 13.2/20 ...

CBS Entertainment did some more fine-tuning Friday, announcing that "Tour of Duty" moves from its current slot at 8 p.m. Thursday to its 9 p.m. Saturday time slot on March 12 a week earlier than previously scheduled ...

Last week, CBS said "48 Hours" was going to move from Tuesday at 8 to "Tour of Duty's" former time slot on March 10, instead of March 17 ...

"48 Hours" will take a rest until then, making way on Tuesday nights over the next three weeks for kiddie comedies tomorrow night, a "Candid Camera" special rerun and then the three-hour CBS News coverage of Super Tuesday on March 8 ...

"Houston Knights," which has been in the 9 p.m. Saturday slot, will go knighty-knight for a while after this coming Saturday night's broadcast. A Willie Nelson special will fill the time slot Saturday, March 5 ...

Alms Talks

Resume on public television March 5 and the three major area PBS stations are already dusting off tambourines and tin cups for the 16-night fund-raising marathons that end March 20 ...

Channel 26 will be seeking $625,000 and 11,500 new members during its drive. WETA will continue to offer nightly prizes during its drive. They've proved to be big Money Makers since being introduced on the last two begathons (in August and December, in case your wallets have forgotten) ...

This time around they include round trip air fares for two to Bermuda and Ireland, as well as a Vermont ski holiday and a riverboat trip down the Mississippi ...

WETA is highlighting the sequel to "Anne of Green Gables" with 2 1/2-hour telecasts of that show on March 5 and 12, while offering as a major premium the "Anne of Green Gables Cook Book," put together by Kate Macdonald, granddaughter of "Anne of Green Gables" author Lucy Maud Montgomery. You'll be delighted as we to learn that the Cook Book includes a recipe for Rat in the Pudding (a longtime Airwaves family favorite) ...

Channel 32, the Howard University public station, which will also conduct a fund-raising drive between March 5-20, hasn't set a money goal, although general manager Arnold Wallace said Friday he hopes to exceed the good $111,000 total attained in December's drive ...

The Maryland public TV network, which bypassed an August drive last year, is looking for 10,000 new members and a goal in the "$500,000 range." MPT executives estimate last summer's drive cancellation cost the system some 6,000 new members and they'd like to pick up the slack this time ...

Former CBS Entertainment president B. Donald (Bud) Grant and Tribune Broadcasting Co. last week announced an agreement in principle to form Grant/Tribune Productions. CBS will have first call on the initial TV programs produced by the firm, under terms of the deal Grant signed with the network when he left last fall. Grant/Tribune Productions will also produce sitcoms and other programming for the Tribune's six stations ...

WTLV in Jacksonville, Fla., which bailed out on NBC in 1980 when that network languished in third place in favor of a fling with a then-competitive ABC, will return to the NBC fold as an affiliate this summer. WTLV is now owned by Gannett. Jacksonville is the 59th largest TV market in the country, serving about 439,000 TV homes ...

For the past eight years, NBC has been stuck in the Jacksonville market on a UHF channel, WJKS; WTLV is a VHF. ABC will now probably switch to Media General-owned WJKS. Meanwhile, first-place NBC is also eyeing a switch from UHF stations to more powerful VHF outlets in three other, larger markets, including Hartford-New Haven (24th largest), Charlotte (32nd) and Raleigh-Durham (36th)...

VHF covers channels 2 through 13; lower-powered UHF covers channels 14-69 ...

Let's Get Oriented

As first revealed here Feb. 5, NBC's "Today" show is taking a ride on the legendary Orient Express this spring. Now the network confirms the luxury train trip takes place the week of May 9 ...

Bryant Gumbel, Jane Pauley, Willard Scott and the rest of the gang will begin their trip in Paris, with stops at Zurich, Munich, Vienna and Venice over the next four days. They'll broadcast live from each stop via satellite between 2 and 4 p.m. Europe time daily but advance crews will have plenty of material on tape waiting for them ...

No estimate on costs but previous such journeys have cost the network between $2 million and $3 million. (A planned wind-up in Budapest has been ruled out as too costly) ...

Meanwhile, ABC's "Good Morning America" crew, still sporting tans from the week in the Virgin Islands earlier this month, will be in Sweden for a week starting either May 16 or May 23. The Scandinavian country this year is marking the 350th anniversary of Swedish emigration to America ...

The travel bug has even bitten under-nourished "CBS This Morning," which is thinking of a modest stayover in Los Angeles in June. Wheee! ...

CBS, by the way, plans a campaign aimed at convincing network affiliates in the Midwest, the bulk of whom now air "This Morning" live between 6 and 8 a.m., to move it up to a 7 a.m. start. CBS researchers (some of whom apparently once worked for ABC) predict as much as a 1.5 Nielsen point rise in the national ratings if the Midwest affiliates all got in line, making it competitive with the NBC and ABC shows ...

In the latest rankings, for the week ending Feb. 12, NBC's "Today" led with a 5.4 Nielsen rating and a 23 percent audience share. GMA was second at 4.5/19, while "CBS This Morning" lagged behind at 2.3/10 ...