House Speaker Tom Foley yesterday revealed to a National Press Club audience that starting Tuesday, Feb. 19, all sessions from the floor of the House -- aired live on C-SPAN -- will be closed-captioned for the hearing-impaired ...

Four people from the National Captioning Institute in Virginia will translate floor speeches and debate into text within four seconds, Foley said ...

To demonstrate the new capability, C-SPAN's live coverage of Speaker Foley's address yesterday was closed-captioned ...

Because of public funding limitations there are no immediate plans to expand the captioning to House committee proceedings, however ...

The Senate, whose floor debates are carried live on C-SPAN II, is expected to jump in with its own closed-captioning of floor debates within a couple of months, according to sources ...

C-SPAN is carried to 53 million homes in the United States ...

ABC's "Good Morning America" continues to lead the morning network race with a 4.9 national Nielsen rating and a 20 percent audience share last week. "Today" was second at 3.9/16, with "CBS This Morning" third at 3.0/12. All three are running ahead of fourth-quarter 1990 performances due to the war news interest ...

Which reminds us: Caroline Kennedy, daughter of the late president, makes a rare appearance on television a week from today on "Good Morning America" ...

Attorneys Kennedy and Ellen Alderman have written a book marking the 200th anniversary of the Bill of Rights called "In Our Defense: The Bill of Rights in Action." Right now, she is scheduled to appear in the 7:30 a.m. segment on the Feb. 15 broadcast ...

And, in what's been threatening to be a ratingzzz-fraught morning, let's admit that Wednesday's Barbara Walters special on ABC, at 18.3/31, helped ABC win the night. So did the network return of "Anything but Love," which averaged a 14.6/23, 15 percent better than "Married People" had averaged in the 9:30 timeslot until recently and 'way up from "Anything's" average last season of just 11.8/19 ...

Over at NBC, that "L.A. Law" special was a nolo contendere, averaging just 9.9/17 against Barbara at 10 ...

Similarly, CBS's "Top Cops" special in that same hour did only a 9.2/16. Earlier, a "48 Hours" about spouse abuse did a 9.9/17 ...

In Other NewsA front-page article in the Wall Street Journal claiming that CBS News's coverage of the Persian Gulf War has been "weak" and that the News division is split into two warring factions and asking -- once again -- whether anchor Dan Rather's days are numbered had them circling the wagons at division headquarters on West 57th Street in New York again yesterday ...

The article, by Kevin Goldman, had been rumored to be in the works for two weeks. "The anticipation has been worse than the execution," one senior executive of CBS Inc. insisted yesterday, but he seemed to be in the minority. A few executives would discuss the article but not for the record -- and not for long ...

Goldman compared CBS News's performance in World War II, which, he said, established the network as "the standard-bearer of broadcast journalism," with the fumbling start of CBS's coverage of the gulf war on Wednesday, Jan. 16 ...

By comparison, wrote Goldman, "In the first week of the Persian Gulf War, CBS News became the butt of jokes on NBC's 'Late Night With David Letterman' and 'Saturday Night Live' " ...

While pointing out that the other networks also had their troubles in the early hours of the war, the lengthy article was pervaded by the sense of a network news division finally paying the price for years of budget cuts demanded by a bottom-line-conscious ownership. The story set forth claims of several serious problems in the division ...

"CBS News is split into two camps with fundamentally different views about how the operation should be run," Goldman wrote, and the split, "many at the network say, is hurting the evening news broadcast" ...

One faction includes Rather and some of his staff, who believe most of the division's limited resources should be devoted to a "daily news-gathering operation {i.e., 'CBS Evening News'} ... very earnest in tone and centered on hard news" ...

CBS top executives, on the other hand, want to concentrate more resources on producing primetime news feature programs and specials, Goldman wrote ...

One CBS Inc. executive -- speaking off the record -- confirmed yesterday such a split exists and guessed that as many as 85 percent of the news staff probably share corporate's desire for more primetime news shows and a livelier "Evening News" broadcast ...

Surprisingly, Goldman says CBS Broadcast Group President Howard Stringer, once Rather's executive producer and a former president of CBS News, leads the faction for change that also believes that "Evening News" "has become stodgy and boring and needs to be changed" (Stringer was unavailable for comment late yesterday) ...

Rather, however, who was also unavailable for comment, is believed to share some of the criticisms of the current broadcast, at least privately ...

As Goldman builds his case, he charges that in the weeks before the war broke out both Rather and his current executive producer, Tom Bettag, "were largely excluded from meetings to plan war coverage," which were attended by CBS News president Eric Ober and two executives of the news feature programs, Andrew Heyward of "48 Hours" and Lane Venardos of "America Tonight" ...

At the Washington bureau of CBS News yesterday, bureau chief Barbara Cohen, understandably chary of responding directly to Goldman's article, nevertheless insisted that "everybody's baffled by {the claim of the split}. Nobody knew there were two factions" ...

She said after word of the article circulated yesterday "people here just put their heads down and went to work. The unfortunate thing is, we got some bad breaks in the first two hours of the war but since then you can't name one story CBS has gotten beat on. That was sort of lost in the article and that's discouraging to people ...

"Dan's also anchored some primetime programs recently that have beaten everybody, including the entertainment shows, in the ratings" ...

At the CBS affiliates meeting here, which ended yesterday at the Westin Hotel, Ober reportedly "disarmed" critics with a strikingly candid assessment of the opening-night jitters on the Jan. 16 broadcast ...

A CBS Inc. executive who was present said the affiliates' assessments of the News division performance were "a lot less volatile than you might have expected." The executive, predictably, characterized the Journal report as "unfounded and unsubstantiated," adding -- correctly, it turned out -- that "nobody at the network is going to respond to the article for the record" ...

Goldman makes the point that "Evening News" staffers feel the extra work connected with the additional broadcasts such as "48 Hours" and "America Tonight," as well as division planning for additional future news series, "is diverting money, manpower and top talent that used to go to their newscast" ...

After years of staff and budget cuts, since Laurence Tisch purchased the network in 1986, CBS now employs just 1,000, compared with the 1,200 at ratings leader ABC News and 1,000 at NBC News ...

And currently, CBS is making do with only about 40 staffers in the Persian Gulf while ABC and NBC have almost twice as many and CNN about 130 ...

In the old days, when Edward R. Murrow and Walter Cronkite reigned, Goldman pointed out, "CBS always outmanned and outspent its rivals, particularly on coverage of breaking news" ...

The focus, invariably, is once again on Rather, who has two years to go on a $3-million-per-year contract, and whether the declining ratings for "Evening News" -- which has slipped to third behind ABC and NBC in recent weeks -- spell a change in status for the anchor, either by his removal from the broadcast or the assignment of a co-anchor (rumors that Rather has had to contend with for some time) ...

When Rather replaced Walter Cronkite some years ago, the then-all-powerful "CBS Evening News" initially slumped badly in the ratings but then recovered under Rather and won every week for five years in a row ...

Goldman cites a personal ratings slip for Rather over the past two years, compared with ABC's Peter Jennings and NBC's Tom Brokaw. Rather, he writes, "trails the others in such categories as 'warm and friendly' and 'objectivity,' scores slightly ahead of the other two in 'reporting' and runs even with Mr. Jennings on 'depth of coverage' and 'experience' " ...

He also cited Rather's "penchant for folksy aphorisms or even outright hokum" and pointed out that a new set unveiled two weeks ago by Ober is "designed to accommodate a co-anchor" ...

Said one CBS Inc. executive yesterday: "I don't think people understand the mechanics of making a major change in anchors, especially at a time like this. You would automatically lose a lot of loyal viewers and you'd be saying something about the broadcast that Dan doesn't deserve and CBS wouldn't want to say" ...