MARINA DEL REY, CALIF. -- The college football bowls on New Year's knocked "ABC World News Tonight" out of the network news ratings lead last week, ending a winning streak that had extended 51 weeks ...

"CBS Evening News" was the only network news program to broadcast last Tuesday, achieving a remarkable 17.9 national Nielsen rating and a 30 percent audience share that night ...

That boosted CBS's five-night average for the week to a 12.0/21, compared with a four-night average for "World News Tonight" of 11.4/21 and a 10.5/19 for "NBC Nightly News" ...

You won't be surprised to learn that both ABC and NBC would prefer to talk about last week's averages sans Tuesday, which put ABC on top with its 11.4/21 while raising NBC to a second-place tie with CBS at 10.5/19 ... a much prettier picture, you'd have to agree if you were at NBC or ABC ...

This is getting to be a habit for "World News Tonight," which was starting to build a similar winning streak late last year when it ran into New Year's night and had to begin its string all over again ...

Everybody (well, almost everybody) at Cable News Network in New York and Washington is asking why Richard Cohen is prowling the premises these days ...

He was Dan Rather's political producer in 1988 when he made the mistake of not dropping the subject of Dan's stormy interview with then-candidate George Bush. Cohen left "CBS Evening News" shortly after the Iowa primary. He's married to "60 Minutes' " Meredith Vieira and occasionally writes op-ed pieces for major newspapers criticizing the networks ...

The rumour du jour has him working on a project for CNN's "special assignment" unit ...

Channel 4 has bought the syndicated "Candid Camera" show for next fall from King World. No idea where it fits in yet but it could fill a daytime or primetime access slot (NBC, you'll recall, recently announced plans to turn an hour of daytime back to its stations come September) ...

C-SPAN will provide live gavel-to-gavel coverage beginning tomorrow of the Senate and House debates on authorizing military force in the Persian Gulf ...

The daily debates will be repeated each night starting at 8 p.m... .

Viewer call-in shows are also planned. Senate coverage will be on C-SPAN II, the House on C-SPAN ...

In the absence of final figures from Channel 7, we can report that the Redskins-Eagles NFL playoff game averaged a 37.3 rating and a 68 percent audience share between 12:30 and 3:30 p.m. on Saturday ...

NBC Entertainment president Warren Littlefield earlier this week announced that Ruth Slawson has been named senior vice president, miniseries and motion pictures for television ...

Since February 1989, she's been vice president of miniseries. She replaces Tony Masucci, who had been with NBC for years. In the past 6 1/2 years his movies and miniseries have ranked number one among the networks.

Said Littlefield: "I'm pleased to say that {Tony} is going into the producing ranks as a non-exclusive independent producer with multiple film commitments from NBC" ...

Which somehow leads us to a quick rundown of NBC's movie and miniseries plans for the February ratings sweeps, which run from Jan. 30 through Feb. 27 ...

The network premiere of "Good Morning, Vietnam" kicks off the NBC schedule on Sunday, Feb. 3. "Long Road Home," a story of the Depression and the unions, follows the next night ...

"The Chase," based on a real-life incident in Denver two years ago in which a TV news helicopter helped capture a stickup and murder suspect, will air Sunday, Feb. 10, followed the next night by "The Marla Hanson Story," which tells of the brutal slashing of a New York model ...

The two-part miniseries, "Love, Lies and Murder," another true story of a manipulative father who talks his daughter into murdering her stepmother, airs on Feb. 17-18, and "Perry Mason: The Case of the Maligned Mobster" is scheduled for Sunday, Feb. 24, followed by the movie "In Broad Daylight" on Feb. 25 ...

"Under Cover," which premiered on ABC as a two-hour movie Monday night, averaged a 9.9/16. The series about the CIA -- a disappointment from the creators of "China Beach," which it replaces on Saturday starting this weekend -- finished third in its timeslot, behind the CBS regular lineup, which averaged a 17.4/27, and the Sidney Poitier theatrical movie "Shoot to Kill" on NBC, which did a 16.4/26 ...

Fox Tales

Fox Broadcasting, which has been a little slow making some much-needed schedule changes, has laid out a little of the future, anyway ...

"Cops" will be expanded to an hour to replace the canceled "American Chronicles." And a spinoff of "Married ... With Children" called "Top of the Heap" will replace "Good Grief" in late February ...

Backup shows for the spring include "Blood Ties," a gothic drama about vampires from Esther and Richard Shapiro, the creators of "Dynasty" (another series that may be undead) and "The Last Hurrah," a documentary series about the senior years of a Midwest high school ...

"Fantasy Park," an interactive game show, will debut as specials next month and will replace "Haywire" in March if audiences show they care enough ...

"Urban Anxiety," an improvisational comedy series, is also waiting in the wings ...

TV RATINGZZZZ

Following are the top 20 network prime-time shows last week, ranked according to the percentage of the nation's 93.1 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...................................SHARE...NETWORK

1 ... 24.4 .. Cheers .......................... 37 ..... NBC

2 ... 23.7 .. 60 Minutes ...................... 36 ..... CBS

3 ... 20.1 .. Blossom ......................... 30 ..... NBC

4 ... 20.0 .. The Cosby Show .................. 30 ..... NBC

5 ... 19.6 .. Rescue 911 ...................... 29 ..... CBS

6 ... 19.0 .. Murder, She Wrote ............... 27 ..... CBS

7 ... 18.5 .. The Golden Girls ................ 30 ..... NBC

8 ... 18.3 .. Orange Bowl Game ................ 30 ..... NBC

9 ... 18.1 .. Empty Nest ...................... 29 ..... NBC

..... 18.1 .. Wings ........................... 29 ..... NBC

..... 18.1 .. America's Funniest Home Videos .. 26 ..... ABC

12 .. 17.8 .. America's Funniest People ....... 26 ..... ABC

13 .. 17.1 .. Unsolved Mysteri....es .......... 26 ..... NBC

14 .. 16.9 .. Her Wicked Ways ................. 26 ..... CBS

15 .. 16.4 .. Family Matters .................. 26 ..... ABC

16 .. 16.3 .. Full House ...................... 27 ..... ABC

17 .. 16.0 .. Bump in the Night ............... 25 ..... CBS

18 .. 15.8 .. L.A. Law ........................ 27 ..... NBC

19 .. 15.0 .. Carol & Company ................. 26 ..... NBC

20 .. 14.6 .. Doogie Howser, M.D. ............. 22 ..... ABC

Despite a CBS football telecast that went into primetime and helped kick Jane Pauley's new NBC series right in the Nielsens, NBC won the first week of the New Year, ratings estimates showed yesterday.

But the margin was tiny. NBC had a 13.2/22 ratings average in primetime and CBS a 13.1/21. ABC began 1991 on a gloomy note with an 11.6/19 rating, and FOX had a 6.5/10 for the week ending Jan. 6.

The week's top-rated show with a 24.4 average was NBC's "Cheers."

CBS's Sunday telecast of the New Orleans Saints-Chicago Bears playoff game had a higher rating, a 26.9/44, for the 21 minutes it overlapped into primetime. But Nielsen officials didn't count it among the week's shows because it didn't start in primetime, said a spokesman for the ratings company.

Still, the football battle had an impact. It delayed the start of CBS's top-rated "60 Minutes," putting that show against the premiere of NBC's "Real Life With Jane Pauley," anchored by the former "Today" star.

It was no contest. CBS's broadcast was the week's second most-watched show.

Pauley's effort wound up ranked 70th nationally with a 7.3/11 rating.

"Expose'," NBC's investigative news series, fared slightly better in its debut than Pauley's preceding show. It averaged a 9.6/14 rating, ranking 56th out of 86 programs.

A Thursday preview of a new NBC Monday comedy, "Blossom," was third in the week's ratings, helped by the fact it aired right after Bill Cosby's powerhouse sitcom.

Only one of the college football bowl games made it into the Nielsen Top 10 last week -- NBC's New Year's Day telecast of the Colorado-Notre Dame joust at the Orange Bowl.