Proving once again that America's appetite for quality may be stronger than the commercial networks want to believe, national audiences for PBS's epic "The Civil War" continue to grow ...

Monday night, "1862: A Very Bloody Affair"/"Forever Free" averaged a 9.1 rating and a 13 percent audience share in Nielsen's 24 major markets, up from the 9.0/13 on opening night, Sunday ...

PBS estimates that some 14 million viewers saw the two episodes during Monday's 2 1/2-hour telecast ...

In Washington, viewership was also up on Channel 26, as the second night of "The Civil War" averaged an 8.4/12, compared with a 7.5/11 on Sunday night. PBS estimates that some 205,000 viewers in about 146,000 TV homes watched in Washington ...

The WETA number was up despite a power surge in far Northwest that blacked out D.C. Cablevision in some 4,800 homes between 7:39 -- just a half-hour before the series went on the air -- and 9:31 Monday night ...

As a result, WETA said yesterday it will repeat the two Monday night episodes starting at midnight on Saturday. "It's the best we can do," a WETA spokesman lamented yesterday ...

"The Civil War" airs through Thursday on PBS, starting at 8 p.m. ...

According to chief technician Donald Fitzgerald of D.C. Cablevision, the power surge apparently tripped a circuit breaker that caused the blackout, which was finally repaired by crews from C&P Telephone. However, the outage affected only about 2 percent of the cable system's 250,000 customers ...

Among the major markets, New York's WNET attracted the largest audience, averaging a 12.7/18 Monday night. San Francisco's KQED did a 12.2/18, WGBH in Boston a 12.1/18 and KOPB in Portland, Ore., an 11.4/17. The program drew its smallest audiences in Indianapolis and Detroit among the top 24 markets that night ...

WETA reports that it's received more than 4,200 $10 pledges as a result of the Jody Powell spot that appears in connection with "The Civil War" this week ...

Speaking of PBS, the public network launches a radical (for PBS) $1.5 million network and cable TV campaign tomorrow night in an effort to reverse three years of declining primetime audiences ...

Three 15-second spots to promote "Showcase Week: The Week to Watch" will air on 30 different network programs by next Thursday night in a bid to attract viewers to its seven-day sampler of the new season, which begins Sunday evening ...

Cable networks will air the spots another 150 times during the week ...

The PBS spots will debut on ABC's "PrimeTime Live" and "Nightline" tomorrow night. We'll spare you a complete rundown, but a sampling of the programs chosen for the media buys includes the CBS and NBC news shows and CBS's "48 Hours" on Saturday, and NBC's "Sunday Today," ABC News, ABC News's "Business World" and CBS's "60 Minutes," "Murder, She Wrote" and the CBS movie on Sunday ...

Other shows chosen next week include CBS's "Murphy Brown" and ABC's "MacGyver," "thirtysomething" and "The Wonder Years" ...

Although PBS has very upscale demographics, its primetime ratings average has dropped from an all-time high of 2.8 in 1986-87 to a 2.3 last season (numbers that underscore the extent of the "Civil War" triumph so far) ...

On another front: Marshall Turner, a San Francisco-based venture capitalist and former board chairman of KQED, has been elected chairman of the board of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting ...

He succeeds Ken Towery, who has been board chairman since February of last year ...

Turner was named to the CPB board by President Reagan in 1987 for a term that ends March 1992 ...

The board also reelected UCLA law professor Daniel Brenner as vice chairman. Turner, 48, holds a Republican seat on the board. Brenner is a Democrat, who was appointed to a five-year term by Reagan in 1986 ...

The 10-member board is currently shy one member but President Bush recently nominated Sharon Percy Rockefeller for a seat, pending Senate confirmation ...

"ABC World News Tonight With Peter Jennings" won the network news race again last week with a 10.3/21, compared with an 8.8/18 for "NBC Nightly News With Tom Brokaw" and an 8.5/17 for "CBS Evening News With Dan Rather" ...

That's only the second second-place finish for NBC in the past 24 weeks and the three-tenths of a ratings point margin over CBS was its largest such since last March ...

The Senate Monday passed a bill to limit commercials on children's TV shows ...

The bill, which is now before the House, would limit commercials on children's programs to 10 1/2 minutes per hour on weekends and 12 minutes per hour on weekdays. The bill also authorizes $6 million over the next two years as a national endowment for the development of children's TV programs ...

Bush opposes the bill but has not said if he will veto it. Reagan vetoed a similar bill two years ago ...

Monday night, the NFL game on ABC between Buffalo and the Jets averaged a 13.9/24 between 9 and 11:59. At 10, "The Trials of Rosie O'Neill" on CBS did a 12.4/21, while NBC's bid for the women viewers, the movie "Casey's Gift: For the Love of a Child," averaged a 14.0/22 ...

Talk about your Ratingzzz Free Zones (and don't we just wish we could have one this morning, TV Column fans!): Advertising Age reports that the three big networks have all allowed their contracts with Nielsen Media Research (worth $10 million in all to the ratings service annually) to expire this month pending resolution of their continuing complaints over the ratings -- particularly the unexplained drop in TV usage during the first quarter of this year. They all have "evergreen" clauses that allow them to continue receiving the service under the previous three-year contracts but they're still waiting for Nielsen to come up with some answers about the accuracy of the peoplemeter system ...

Yesterday was the last day on the job for WJLA's director of public relations, Joyce Kravitz. We're going to miss her professionalism and good humor. But it won't be for long, we trust... TV RATINGZZZZ

Following are the top 20 network prime-time shows last week, ranked according to the percentage of the nation's 92.1 milllion TV households that watched, as measured by the A.C. Nielsen Co. A share represents the percentage of actual sets-in-use tuned to a particular program when it aired.

RATINGS........SHOW....................SHARE...NETWORK

1. 22.0.........Cheers....................35......NBC

2. 20.1.........Roseanne..................30......ABC

3. 20.0.........60 Minutes................33......CBS

... 20.0.........Designing Women...........31......CBS

5. 19.8.........The Cosby Show............33......NBC

6. 19.6.........Murphy Brown..............30......CBS

7. 18.8.........The Golden Girls..........34......NBC

8. 18.6.........A Different World.........30......NBC

9. 18.4.........Empty Nest................32......NBC

10. 17.7.........Unsolved Mysteries........30......NBC

... 17.7.........Major Dad.................27......CBS

12. 17.3.........Doogie Howser, M.D........28......ABC

13. 17.1.........Murder, She Wrote.........25......CBS

14. 16.8.........Growing Pains.............27......ABC

15. 16.7.........In the Heat of the Night..26......NBC

16. 16.6.........Who's the Boss?...........27......ABC

17. 16.4.........Matlock...................26......NBC

.. 16.4.........Field of Dreams...........26......CBS

19. 16.3.........The Wonder Years..........28......ABC

20. 16.0.........American Dreamer (Thurs.) 26......NBC

.. 16.0.........Married People (Tues.)....24......ABC

As expected, CBS won the first week of the new season with a 13.6 rating and a 23 share, compared with a 13.4/23 for five-year champion NBC and a 13.2/22 for ABC ...

The four-tenths of a ratings point margin from first to third made it the closest finish for a premiere week since the start of the 1966-67 season and was CBS's first such premiere win since 1984. The win brought out the champagne at CBS Inc. headquarters in New York yesterday ...

A spokesman for NBC congratulated doormat CBS on its success but promised that "we'll be back; it's a long season" ...

NBC vice president Curt Block pointed out that some 19 series are yet to debut -- including eight on the House of Hits, six on ABC and five on CBS ...

And those meanies at ABC Research pointed out that they were number one in the key men and women 18-to-49 demographics for the week ...

ABC's "America's Funniest Home Videos," which concluded last season with a 40 share and was a key factor in that network's second-place finish, was in 26th this past week, with just a 23 share ...

Among the highlights of Week One: the Kansas City-Denver NFL game on ABC finished 22nd, the CBS Sunday movie about Leona Helmsley was 24th, NBC's movie about date rape, "She Said No," was 29th, the premiere of CBS's "The Flash" was 34th and its "Evening Shade" was 45th ...

The ABC Bette Midler special tied for 47th ...

Among the highly touted new series that didn't jump right up and grab viewers apparently: NBC's "The Fanelli Boys" tied for 51st, ABC's "Gabriel's Fire" was 62nd, NBC's "Parenthood" was 67th and CBS's "Lenny" tied for 72nd ...