You won't be too surprised to learn that the dramatic news late Friday afternoon that a mistrial had been declared in Mayor Barry's drug and perjury trial boosted the early news ratings here ...

After a poor July (see ratingzzz story, below) that saw audiences dwindling all across the board here, viewership of the local news shows between 5 and 6 p.m. Friday on the three network affiliates was up almost 25 percent ...

Audiences for the 6 to 7 p.m. news were up more than 40 percent from the nightly averages in July. By 11 p.m., audiences were pretty much back to normal ...

Channel 9 won the early news race, averaging a 9.0/22 from 5 to 6, compared with an 8.2/20 for Seven and a 7.1/17 for Four ...

Each ratings point represents 17,278 TV homes ...

Nine kept the lead from 6 to 7, jumping to a 12.1/25, compared with an 11.1/24 for Four and a 9.5/19 for Seven's half-hour of local news ...

Later in the evening, Four's 8 p.m. special on the Barry trial averaged an 8.3/17, while Nine's special in the same hour did a 5.7/12 ...

Viewer patterns were pretty much back to normal by 11, however. Four's news led with a 10.6/23, compared with an unusually high 7.7/17 for Seven and a 7.6/17 for Nine ...

The National Association of Broadcast Employees and Technicians (NABET) said Friday it will probably go to court to fight the NBC contract the company plans to put into effect on Wednesday ...

The decision by union officials came Thursday after NBC rejected the union's bid to resume negotiations with a federal mediator present, according to a union spokesman ...

The last contract expired March 31. "NBC's position is that we've had a number of meetings over seven months and there has been ample opportunity to discuss key issues," NBC spokeswoman Betty Hudson said Friday. "The contract is on the table and we have no intention of modifying it" ...

The 2,273 NABET members at NBC, including at least 100 at NBC in Washington, will not receive a salary increase when the contract goes into effect, because union members haven't ratified it, Hudson pointed out. "They'll operate under the old wage provisions until we have a ratified contract" ...

When the new four-year pact is implemented Wednesday, "it appears that we'll be countering with every legal means at our disposal," said John Krieger, the top NABET spokesman ...

Despite a series of unpleasant exchanges with her producers during the recent vacation, "Designing Women" star Delta Burke has promised to be at work today when the CBS series resumes production for the fall season out in L.A... .

Executive producers Linda Bloodworth-Thomason and her husband, Harry Thomason, have accused Burke of causing problems on the set and holding up production. Burke earlier said that the CBS show "is not a good workplace, not a good environment. There are a lot of things wonderful about it, but I have not wanted to be there for some time now" ...

Burke has two years remaining on her contract. "Designing Women" is CBS's third most popular series ...

In Other News

Paul Berry, whose "In Person" is hanging in there at 5 p.m., is set for at least another two years at Seven. Both sides passed on the two-year "window" in his current four-year deal recently ...

Meanwhile, it's nail-biting time at the ABC affiliate. Details of that major "re-structuring" that's been in the works for months at Seven are due to be announced by mid-week ...

Iraqi Crisis Sidebars: "CBS This Morning" has dispatched co-anchor Harry Smith to Cairo ...

And ABC's "This Week With David Brinkley" says its footage of the Kuwait invasion yesterday was the first seen on U.S. TV. It was obtained from a British worker who taped it from the window of his apartment in Kuwait City as the Iraqi troops moved in. ABC News, for security reasons, declined to spell out just how the man and his tape were smuggled out yesterday but said the footage it bought was relayed from London by Worldwide Television News (80 percent owned by ABC) ...

ABC News's "PrimeTime Live" -- 93rd in the national rankings so far this year -- nevertheless gave itself a party last week, taking over the "Spirit of New York" for a cruise down the East River and out past the Statue of Liberty ...

Some 400 were piped aboard, including ABC News president Roone Arledge, Capital Cities/ABC boss Dan Burke, ABC News vice president Joanna Bistany and co-anchor Diane Sawyer and her husband, Mike Nichols ...

Also on board: correspondents Judd Rose, Chris Wallace, Jay Schadler, John Quinones and Ray Gandolf ...

Seen dancing the night away were Diane and co-anchor Sam Donaldson ...

"PrimeTime Live," by the way, won its time period last Thursday with a 10.0 national Nielsen rating and a 19 share, its best performance since June 7. A segment about Brother Toby McCarroll, whose Starcross Community has gone to Romania to care for babies with the AIDS virus, attracted at least 100 calls Thursday night and Friday morning from viewers and ABC affiliates around the country seeking information on how they could help ...

Local Ratingzzz

Early returns from the July Nielsen ratings sweeps in Washington reflect the audience drop that has bedeviled the networks nationally in recent months ...

Keeping in mind that each ratings point represents 17,278 TV homes (how could you possibly forget?), only Channel 20, among the commercial stations here, showed an audience increase from sign-on to sign-off (7 a.m. until 2 a.m.) last month ...

Those 19-hour figures show ABC affiliate WJLA led with a 5.3/16 (off only slightly from a 5.4/16 a year ago in July), followed closely by CBS affiliate Nine at 5.2/16 (off from 6.2/18), NBC-owned Four at 4.9/15 (off from 5.5/16), FOX-owned Five at 4.6/14 (from 5.5/16) and independent Twenty at 2.2/7 (up from a 2.0/6) ...

Some of the changes have been fairly dramatic. Like in the early morning. Oh, sure, ABC's "Good Morning America" is still No. 1 on WJLA but at a 3.9 rating and a 20 share, its audience is off 22 percent from July 1989 ...

Second-place "Today" on WRC at 3.0/15 is down 25 percent; "CBS This Morning" on WUSA at 2.2/11 is off 27 percent. And, at 2.0/10, WTTG's new "Fox Morning News" during the same two hours is down 50 percent from last year's cartoon lineups ...

Then there's the Monday-Friday 4 to 5 p.m. "early fringe," which hasn't been the same since Seven snatched Oprah Winfrey away from Nine a year ago ...

She's still No. 1 on WJLA, averaging an 8.1/25, not too far off the 9.0/25 she did a year ago on Nine. But Nine's newshour at 4 is averaging a 4.3/13, which is more than a 50 percent drop for the station in that time period ...

Running third at 4 p.m. are "Inside Edition" and "Hard Copy" on Four. The two tabloid shows averaged a 3.5/11, down 12 percent from last July ...

Both Nine and Four make good recoveries at 5, with Nine taking the news lead with a 7.3/19 from 5 to 6 p.m., while Four averages a 6.6/17. However, Nine is way down from the 11.0/28 its half-hour of news did a year ago at 5, while Four is up from the 6.0/14 a year ago. "In Person" on Seven does a 6.2/17, up a little from the 6.0/14 local news did over the hour a year ago on WJLA ...

Four has the local news lead from 6 to 7 p.m., with an 8.3/19, up from an 8.0/18 a year ago. Nine is close behind at 8.1/18 -- but far off the 12.0/26 its one-hour 5:30 to 6:30 local news did a year ago leading up to a 6:30 Dan Rather news show. Seven averages a 7.1/17 from 5:30 to 6:30 ...

In the network news race, Monday-Friday, "ABC World News Tonight With Peter Jennings," which airs at 6:30 on Seven, continues to lead, averaging a 9.2/20 and showing a considerable gain over the 8.0/17 a July ago ...

"NBC Nightly News" with Tom Brokaw on Four at 7 p.m. is second at 8.0/17 but is off from a 9.0/19 a year ago. "CBS Evening News" with Dan Rather, back at 7 p.m. again but still unable to shake the repercussions of that move to 6:30 in September 1988, trails at 6.9/15. That's far down even from the 10.0/21 it did at 6:30 the previous July (Dan's doing just about what the ill-fated "USA Today" magazine show did in the 7 p.m. timeslot last July) ...

Channel 4 news really steps out at the head of the pack at 11 p.m. winning, Monday-Friday, with a 9.6/23. But that, too, is still down from 10.0/23 a year ago ...

Nine, which once owned 11 p.m., comes in second at 7.7/18, down from a 9.0/19 a year ago. The wheels have been off for Seven, come 11 (a slight play on words there, TV Column fans, just to see if you're still awake midst all these numbers, which we seriously doubt) for some time but the station did show a 10 percent gain in audience over last July in the late news, averaging a 5.5/13 ...

Channel 5's 10 o'clock news continues to show strength, averaging a 9.0/17 but it too is off 11 percent from a year ago ...