CBS News President David Burke has resigned after just over two years on the job, CBS executives confirmed late last night. An announcement of his decision and his successor could come as soon as today, according to the Los Angeles Times.

Eric Ober, a longtime CBS News executive who is currently vice president in charge of the network's owned-stations division, is reportedly in line to replace Burke.

Other changes in top management at CBS Inc. are also said to be imminent.

Burke, 54, reportedly has two years to go on his contract and will remain as a consultant.

Rumors of Burke's unhappiness at CBS have been widespread for many months, amid reports that CBS President Laurence Tisch and his top lieutenant, Jay Kriegel, have been openly critical of his performance. The Los Angeles Times reported last night that his resignation was not due to differences with network executives over budget matters or philosophy, but other reports indicated Burke may have been forced out.

Burke had been a top aide to ABC News President Roone Arledge for 11 years when he was named to the CBS post in July 1988, the first outsider to head the division in more than 30 years.

He brought a formidable re'sume' to the job, having served in the Kennedy administration and as the top aide to Sen. Edward M. Kennedy before joining Dreyfus Corp. in New York in 1971. He later served as chief of staff to then-New York Gov. Hugh Carey before joining ABC News. He is highly regarded by New York Gov. Mario Cuomo and there has been speculation he could join Cuomo if the latter makes a bid for the Democratic presidential nomination in 1992. In fact, the Los Angeles Times reported that sources speculate Burke's political interests led to his decision to resign.

Burke's short tenure at the network has been a rocky one.

"The telephone calls from Black Rock {CBS corporate headquarters in New York} have been driving David crazy," a top executive at another news division told this reporter earlier this spring.

Since the Mideast crisis broke out early this month, the added expenditures -- at least $1 million weekly -- have reportedly widened, unfairly or not, the rift between cost-conscious Tisch and the News executive.

An article in People magazine this week, by coincidence, quotes CBS News anchor Dan Rather, in a long-distance call to Burke from Cairo during his recent tour, as saying, "I know we're hemorrhaging money." The reporter added, pointedly, that "later, CBS Chairman {sic} Laurence Tisch sends the news team a message of congratulations -- but only after the new, higher ratings are in."

When Burke first joined CBS News, the gruff, no-nonsense but surprisingly shy executive ordered the loose-lipped veterans in the division to stop their public complaints about internal matters. His success in quieting the unseemly grumbling from the highly paid staff was initially praised by his new bosses. Unfortunately for Burke's image, he obeyed his own orders best, cutting himself off completely from the working press. Burke, it turned out, would go public, in carefully measured statements, only when major problems arose at CBS News.

Burke's reticence often seemed to lend credence to criticism of his actions.

And several news-making problems arose on his watch, most notably the Andy Rooney flap early this year when the "60 Minutes" commentator's published remarks in a gay magazine set off a protest from the gay and lesbian community. Burke's first move was to suspend Rooney without pay for three months, but within a month -- reportedly under pressure from his top bosses at corporate headquarters -- he reinstated Rooney to the broadcast.

Soon after Burke took over from Howard Stringer, who was promoted to president of CBS Broadcast Group, his plans to invest $2 million in a week-long series on environmental problems was killed by top management.

Also that fall, a New York newspaper wrote that a freelance cameraman had faked battle scenes in Afghanistan used by the network before Burke had joined CBS, briefly tainting the reputation of "CBS Evening News" and its high-visibility anchor, Rather. After an internal investigation, Burke exonerated all concerned, but the publicity hurt.

Burke upset many at the CBS Washington bureau late in 1988 when he shuffled the major assignments.

This spring, he engineered the signing of ABC News anchor Paula Zahn for "CBS This Morning," removing Kathleen Sullivan, whom he had publicly praised only months before. There were reports at the time that he had made the move without consulting executives at Black Rock, several of whom, including Tisch, were reportedly Sullivan fans.

Most important of all, on Burke's watch "CBS Evening News With Dan Rather" fell to second place behind a consistently strong "ABC World News Tonight With Peter Jennings," costing the division millions in potential revenue over the past year.

One source insisted yesterday that Tisch had wanted to remove Burke a week ago, but with Rather and a CBS crew of nine still in Baghdad and with Burke a major go-between in negotiations with the Iraqi Embassy here, the decision was postponed until the staffers were back in neutral territory.

Said one CBS producer yesterday: "David's been a strong boss, but he wasn't sociable like Howard. We always heard that one of his missions was getting {Ted} Koppel over here from ABC and obviously that didn't happen."

Repeated calls to Burke, Stringer and other CBS executives yesterday were not returned.

In Other News There's a good chance that the Public Broadcasting Service will air the hearings before the Senate Judiciary Committee next month on the nomination to the U.S. Supreme Court of Judge David Souter of New Hampshire ...

Channel 26 here would be in charge of production for telecasts, tentatively scheduled for Sept. 13-15 ...

The fourth edition of NBC News's "Real Life With Jane Pauley" Tuesday night averaged an 11.9 national Nielsen rating and a 22 percent audience share. In Washington, Jane averaged a 12.3/22 on Channel 4 ...

Would you be completely surprised to learn that each national ratings point represents 921,000 TV homes, while a local point represents 17,278? ...

Cable News Network has received an okay from the Iraqis, and Rowland Evans and a crew are en route to Baghdad, where he's expected to conduct interviews today and tomorrow, mostly for CNN's weekend programs ...

It's time to get out those handsome 1990 Airwaves Almanacs & Spiritual Guides again: ABC Entertainment has announced some more premiere dates for the fall ...

Sunday, Sept. 16, "Life Goes On" returns at 7, followed by "America's Funniest Home Videos" and "America's Funniest People" ...

Monday, Sept. 17, the season return of "MacGyver" at 8 ...

Thursday, Sept. 20, "Father Dowling Mysteries" at 8 ...

Friday, Sept. 21: "Full House" at 8, a special one-hour "Family Matters" at 8:30 and the new "Going Places" at 9:30 ...

Saturday, Sept. 22, "The Young Riders" at 8 ...

Friday, Sept. 28, the season debut of "Family Matters" at 8:30 and "Perfect Strangers" at 9 ...

Saturday, Sept. 29, "China Beach" returns at 9 and on Sunday, as previously announced, the two-hour premiere of "Twin Peaks" at 9 p.m. ...

And, oh yes. Fox Broadcasting has announced that its fall season will get an early launch with five hours of original primetime programming over the Labor Day weekend ...

Borrowing a page from NBC, FOX also plans to "double-pump" a couple of its shows in early September while it's at it ...

On Saturday, Sept. 1, there'll be a season premiere of "Totally Hidden Video" at 8, followed by "Haywire," the "Video" companion that takes the camera on the road to stage "some of the wildest stunts and nuttiest contests ever seen on television." Sounds perfectly dreadful ...

That night there will also be an original episode of "COPS" and a rerun of "The Tracey Ullman Show" ...

On Sunday, Sept. 2, there will be two one-hour specials, including "Pure Insanity" at 7 and a new primetime edition of "Comic Strip Live" at 10 -- to be broadcast from San Quentin Prison (is FOX on a roll, or what?) -- plus sneak previews of both "True Colors," an interracial romantic comedy, at 8:30 and the high school comedy "Parker Lewis Can't Lose" at 9:30 ...

On Friday, Sept. 7, there will be season premieres of "America's Most Wanted" and "DEA" ...

Saturday, Sept. 8, the David Lynch-Mark Frost project "American Chronicles" will debut at 9:30 ...