The alarm on Connie Chung's biological clock has sounded a loud buzz.

The $2 million-a-year journalist announced yesterday she is cutting back on her work schedule anchoring "Face to Face With Connie Chung" because she is trying to get pregnant.

In an unusual move designed, evidently, to preclude speculation in other directions, Chung issued a statement saying that at her age -- almost 44 -- her doctors have advised her to stop traveling so much if she wants to have a baby. "Maury {Povich} and I have reached an important point in our lives," she said in her announcement. "We want very much to have a child. Unfortunately time is running out for me when it comes to childbearing."

Although Chung's statement noted, "It's difficult to publicly reveal such an important private moment," it is uncommon, to say the least, to announce a desire to get pregnant before the fact of being so.

Chung is not alone in her desire to play Beat the Biological Clock, as the maternity wards are full of what doctors persist in calling "elderly primigravidas." But postponing childbearing has forced many to encounter the downside of having charted the career track first: It's harder to get pregnant.

Although Chung's statement did not refer specifically to infertility problems, it can reasonably be inferred from several clues that Chung's move has something to do with a physician's prescription. "There will be times when I cannot work or travel, which makes it impossible to anchor and report a weekly prime-time program as demanding as 'Face to Face With Connie Chung,' " the anchor said in her statement, and that was as detailed as she got.

There are, furthermore, certain known facts about the reproductive process.

One is that it is helpful, although not absolutely essential, to be in the same town -- preferably in the same room -- as the prospective father of the prospective child at certain times during the month. Although Chung and her husband of 5 1/2 years, television host Maury Povich, both live in New York City, Chung is rarely at home. In a recent two-week stretch, for example, she was in New York only seven nights, took only one day off, and traveled to six cities, including four coast-to-coast trips.

In addition, as Fairfax fertility specialist Joseph Shulman put it, "age reduces the efficiency of the reproductive system dramatically." It is very difficult to conceive at age 44, he said, noting that of the estimated 5,000 women who use his genetic testing service every year, barely a dozen are that old. Help in conceiving could include hormone shots, in vitro fertilization, artificial insemination, fertility drugs or other treatments, all of which revolve around a woman's monthly cycle. Povich, 51, has two daughters from his first marriage who are now 24 and 26.

Chung, who normally works a 10-to-14-hour day, will cut back to roughly six "Face to Face" specials between now and December, a CBS spokeswoman said. Her regular Saturday night slot will be filled by a new series starring Sharon Gless (formally the unmarried one on "Cagney and Lacey") called "The Trials of Rosie O'Neill," in which Gless plays a divorced lawyer who becomes a public defender.

Povich, who hosts the Fox syndicated program "A Current Affair" but will switch next year to a new program for another company, said through a spokesman that this "is a very personal decision on Connie's part and it would be inappropriate for him to comment on it."

CBS News President David Burke said, "Connie and Maury have faced one of life's most important choices with a special commitment to dignity... . Connie and I are in ... agreement that when it comes to the real values of life -- first things first."

Chung will continue to anchor the CBS Sunday evening news, and to fill in for anchor Dan Rather when needed. But she can do that in New York.

Chung's scaled-back work schedule will last only as long as she wants it to, the CBS spokeswoman said -- evidently only as long as it takes for her to get pregnant and have the baby, should she and Povich succeed in their efforts. Once the baby is born she will be "back on overdrive."

"Anyone who knows Connie Chung knows she has always placed her career first," said the spokeswoman.