The syndicated "Inside Edition," which just this past Monday was moved from 4 p.m. to the drop dead 3:30 a.m. timeslot by Channel 4 in favor of "Preview: First Look at the New," returned to its old afternoon timeslot yesterday after only three nights out in the cold ...

Channel 4 made the decision after producers of "Preview" abruptly canceled the syndicated show effective the end of the month ...

Since WRC viewers had barely gotten used to "Preview" at 4 -- it had previously aired at noon on WRC -- GM Allan Horlick decided to move "Inside" back as quickly as possible in the hope nobody would really notice. During its three days at 4 p.m., "Preview" had averaged a 3 rating, which was neither better nor worse than "Inside's" performance ...

"Preview" will air in the 3:30 a.m. timeslot on WRC until the contract runs out the last weekend of December ...

"Preview," which is produced by Television Program Enterprises, an arm of Cox Communications, has been seen on about 90 stations around the country since Sept. 17. The program, which emphasizes new trends and upcoming events in entertainment, lifestyles, etc., was the brainchild of Al Masini, who, not-so-coincidentally, created "Entertainment Tonight" for Paramount some years ago ...

Masini, now chairman of TPE's parent company TeleRep Inc. and an executive producer of "Preview," pulled the plug in an announcement to the staff yesterday ...

In his memo, Masini blamed the program's lack of "significant clearances" in such major markets as New York, Philadelphia and Los Angeles -- which is deadly for advertisers -- "and we could not see any change in the status in the future" ...

"We could have held on another month to see if more positive stories would have materialized," Masini continued, "but we felt if we were to terminate the program at that time, just before the February {ratings} book, we would have hurt the stations and also caused some to miss new program opportunities" at the upcoming convention of the National Association of Television Program Executives -- where most station managers purchase future syndicated programs ...

The news wasn't all bad for WRC, however. Although a spokesman for TPE denied the rumors yesterday, the trades have reported recently that TPE had paid stations in Boston, Dallas-Fort Worth and in Washington for moving "Preview" to more advantageous timeslots and keeping it there for the rest of the season ...

Broadcasting this week reported that TPE had "agreed to pay {WBZ in Boston} around $500,000" to move "Preview" from 3 in the afternoon to 7:30 p.m., when viewership is much higher ...

Horlick declined to discuss the reports or how much, if anything, WRC was being paid, but a local competitor said WRC's deal with TPE will be honored by the distributor despite the cancellation of "Preview," providing the NBC-owned station with a handsome, if undisclosed, "windfall." The guess was it would be considerably less than WBZ's payoff since the move was only from noon to 4 ...

Incidentally, former Channel 9 executive John Goldhammer was another executive producer of "Preview" ...

While we're on the subject of quick exits, Brenda Buttner, who joined Channel 9 from Gannett News Service just a couple of weeks ago to be a consumer reporter, has resigned to become Washington correspondent for CNBC, the NBC financial cable network ...

In Other NewsThe biggest names in television will be in town today for what will probably be the last public hearing in the marathon Federal Communications Commission reappraisal of the Financial Interest and network Syndication Rules (FISR) ...

The big three networks and the Hollywood program production community have been arguing for years over the regulations, which prevent the networks from getting a major share of the multimillion-dollar program syndication revenues ...

The FCC is expected to make a decision on the rulemaking before the end of the first quarter of 1991 ...

The hearings, which run from 9 a.m. until 5:15 p.m. and are open to the public, are being touted as the biggest in FCC history. Some 30 print reporters and eight different TV units -- including FNN, CNN and CNBC (they can be seen locally only over George Mason University's microwave television, "The Capitol Connection") -- will be on hand ...

On the guest list, starting with the 9:15 a.m. panel on "strategic implications of retaining or modifying rules": Daniel Burke of ABC, Robert Daly of Time-Warner, Barry Diller of Fox Broadcasting, Richard Frank of Walt Disney, Laurence Tisch of CBS and Robert Wright of NBC ...

At 10:30 on a panel on "international trade implications of rules": William Brock, appearing for CBS; Jack Valenti of the Motion Picture Association of America; Clyde Prestowitz (for NBC); and Leonard Hill of Leonard Hill Productions ...

At 11:30 a.m. ("the negotiating process"): John Agoglia of NBC; Stephen Cannell of Stephen J. Cannell Productions; Robert Iger, ABC; Jerry Leider of the Caucus of Writers, Producers and Directors; Barry Meyer of Warner Bros.; and Jeff Sagansky of CBS ...

At 1:45 p.m. ("the syndication business"): Ralph Baruch, Program Producers and Distributors Committee; Al DeVaney of the Independent Television Stations Association (INTV); Michael Fisher of Fox TV affiliates; Mel Harris of Paramount TV; Leroy Paul of the American Family Broadcast Group; Ethan Podell of Orbis Productions; and Stephen Weiswasser of ABC ...

At 3 ("diversity and creative flexibility"): Thomas Carter of Justice Productions; Brandon Stoddard of ABC; Harry Pappas of Pappas Telecasting Cos.; Marian Rees of Marian Rees Associates; Andrew Schwartzman of the Media Access Project; and Henry Geller for Action for Children's Television ...

At 4:15 ("economics of the Financial Interest and Syndication Rules"): William Kerr for INTV; Harry Shooshan for Fox; Lawrence Summers, representing ABC, CBS and NBC; and Frederick Warren-Boulton for the Coalition to Preserve FISR ...

Moving Right AlongWednesday night, the excellent two-hour documentary "Weapons of the Spirit" averaged a 2.1/4 on Channel 26. The production told the story of how the small French village of Le Chambon sur Lignon successfully shielded 5,000 Jews from the Nazis during World War II ...

Each local ratings point represents 17,491 TV homes ...

The Writers Guild of America, which underwent a devastating 22-week strike in 1988, announced it will extend for three years its current contract with movie and TV producers. The agreement, pending ratification by 10,500 eligible members, calls for annual contract adjustment meetings at which writers and producers can amend the contract ...

Okay, so that nice Bryant Gumbel is picking up the tab for a "Today" Christmas party next Thursday at the Equitable Building in Manhattan ...

Paula Zahn and Harry Smith, co-anchors of "CBS This Morning," threw a Christmas brunch at the nearby China Clipper Restaurant in Manhattan yesterday for their staff. And weatherman Mark McEwen's sister, soprano Leslie McEwen, who is on her way to the Soviet Union to star in an opera, stopped by to sing carols. So there! ...

Incidentally, in a move that will save an estimated $1 million annually, news anchors Charles Osgood and Victoria Corderi will move from the "CBS Evening News" set to the "CBS This Morning" set to do both the "CBS Morning News" and the newsbreaks on "This Morning" ...

Still more news from the morning crowd. Or: What a difference a year makes. Without Jane Pauley. She left NBC's "Today" show at the end of last December. Fast forward to the week ending Dec. 7, 1990. ABC's "Good Morning America" won its 49th week in a row with a 4.8/23, compared with a 3.5/17 for Jane-less "Today" and a 2.7/13 for "CBS This Morning" (CBS's best rating since last February) ...

"Today" with Deborah and Joe and Bryant was down 23 percent in ratingzzz and 20 percent in share during the November sweeps compared with the same period a year ago ...

One last stroll down Ratingzzz Road. In the national race Wednesday night, NBC won the primetime race while CBS endured another single-digit evening to finish third ...

At 10 p.m., NBC's "Hunter" did a 13.5/26, ABC's "Cop Rock" a 5.1/10; and CBS's "WIOU" an 8.4/16 ...

Each national ratings point represents 931,000 TV homes ...