ABC News correspondent Bill Blakemore reported from Baghdad yesterday via phone for "This Week With David Brinkley" and the evening newscasts ...

He's the first ABC correspondent in the Iraqi capital since Gary Shepard reported on Jan. 16 that the city had been bombed. Blakemore, a Worldwide Television News satellite dish (still to be set up), a producer, a cameraman and a sound man all got into Baghdad for ABC over the weekend ...

So far Iraqi visas have been denied CBS News and NBC News, although the latter, which now relies on BBC coverage from Iraq, is hopeful it'll have a correspondent in place by the middle of the week ...

The CBS turndown is particularly hurtful to that News division, since it's seeking to get an executive in for a humanitarian visit to help in the search for correspondent Bob Simon and the three crew members missing for nearly two weeks now on the Saudi border ...

CNN, of course, already has Peter Arnett and Margaret Lowrie (she's usually based in Chicago) reporting from the Iraqi capital, plus five technicians ...

Paramount Pictures Corp. is demanding that NBC pony up $120 million to renew "Cheers," TV's No. 1 primetime show, for a 10th season ...

The money figures being tossed around by the dealmakers are staggering. According to the L.A. Times, Paramount says NBC earns an average of $330,000 for each 30-second commercial on "Cheers," or $2.6 million an episode. The studio estimates "Cheers" accounts for about 35 percent of NBC's estimated 1991 pretax network profits of $200 million ...

But in a very soft advertising market, the network has little room for boosting current ad rates for the series, a main factor in the negotiating standoff so far ...

Paramount also argues that "Cheers" costs $2.2 million an episode to make, of which NBC now pays only $1.25 million in license fees, which adds up to a loss of more than $25 million annually on the series for the studio -- a deficit that Paramount says it has been absorbing for nearly a decade ...

The option for renewal expired Feb. 1 and negotiations are continuing. Paramount already has 247 episodes of the series in syndication, and another 25 next year wouldn't mean that much additional money for the studio. The series has already generated $315 million in rerun sales as it is ...

NBC needs "Cheers." This past year the No. 1 network has seen its overall primetime ratings (even those for "Cheers") decline to where it currently enjoys only a two-tenths of a ratings point margin over ABC and half a point over CBS, despite those two's lackluster performances this season ...

Meanwhile, NBC's profit margins have shrunk from 13.3 percent in 1989 -- its peak year when it earned $375 million -- to 10.2 percent in 1990 and a projected 7.8 percent in '91. One expert cited by the L.A. Times says profits will fall to $200 million or lower this year on revenues of $2.5 billion ...

Seeking additional negotiating clout, Paramount is reportedly shopping "Cheers" and the prospects of additional series to ABC and CBS. But those networks are faced with the same advertising shortfall and so far apparently haven't responded seriously ...

Adding to NBC's worries: Four other aging but still important series are up for renewal now too, including "The Cosby Show," "A Different World," "The Golden Girls" and "Matlock," which respectively anchor Thursday, Saturday and Tuesday, NBC's three most popular nights ...

One senior executive at NBC told the Times he was "adamant" that the network would not meet Paramount's renewal terms allowing "Cheers" to become a loss leader ...

On Friday, it appeared NBC executives were sending messages to Paramount and the other studios about skyrocketing costs ...

At a meeting of the International Radio and Television Society in New York, NBC Entertainment president Warren Littlefield compared the "Cheers" talks to the network's baseball negotiations some months back, pointing out that the network had enjoyed a long-term relationship with the game until the major leagues upped the ante (CBS finally went for the whole four-year deal at $1.1 billion) to a point where the financial package no longer made sense ...

Littlefield said the network's desire is to continue with "Cheers" but that at some point there has to be flexibility on both sides ...

Also on Friday, NBC News president Michael Gartner, at the behest of NBC president Bob Wright, released figures showing just how much the conflict in the Persian Gulf has cost the network so far -- some $35.7 million since Aug. 2 when the crisis first surfaced, including $21.3 million since war broke out Jan. 16 ...

The figure includes $12.8 million in lost advertising, $7.7 million in news coverage costs and another $2 million in losses to the network's owned stations (such as WRC here) ...

Good grief! Are "Today" and "Nightly News" next? For proprietary reasons, NBC News recently has been inserting a small, multicolored "peacock" logo in the lower right corner of the TV screen throughout some of its newscasts ...

Latest shows to be added, starting this past Saturday evening, were the weekend versions of "NBC Nightly News." Previously, the peacocks have been seen throughout "NBC News at Sunrise" in the early morning, newsbreaks and all special events or "interrupts," such as a briefing or presidential news conference ...

Cable News Network, of course, introduced the use of a disconcerting logo years ago. Thankfully, for some of us sensitive viewers, anyway, CBS and ABC have yet to join the parade ...

Local Ratingzzz

You will not be surprised to learn that more people watched TV in January, with its snowstorms and the outbreak of the war in mid-month, than in either November 1990 or, certainly, in January a year ago ...

Since November, the "households using television" totals are up 6 percent at 5 and 6 p.m., up 7 percent at 7, 5 percent at 11 and up 4 in primetime ...

Since January a year ago the rise is about 6 percent in each of those same categories, reversing a downward trend that has affected TV all over the country ...

Generally, viewer news patterns held steady. Nine dominates in the early evening and Four at 11. Seven rebounded strongly at 11 although it still lags behind Four and Nine ...

Keeping in mind that each Nielsen ratingzzz point represents 17,491 TV homes (how could you possibly forget?), here are some January highlights:

From 7 to 9 a.m. Mondays-Fridays: "Good Morning America" on WJLA is first with a 5.7/21 (compared with a 5.6/23 a year ago), followed by "CBS This Morning" on WUSA at 3.5/14 (3.7/16), the "Today" show on WRC at 3.4/13 (4.0/17) and Fox Morning News on WTTG at 2.6/10, compared with a 3.6/15 for WTTG cartoons a year ago ...

From 4 to 5 p.m. M-F: Oprah Winfrey is first on WJLA with a 9.6/22 (8.5/24), compared with a 7.2/17 (5.9/17) for WUSA's news, a 5.4/13 (4.3/12) for WRC's tabloid shows, a 4.9/12 for WTTG's cartoons and a 4.1/10 (3.3/9) for WDCA's cartoons ...

From 5 to 6 p.m. M-F: WUSA's news is tops for the hour with a 10.5/21 (9.6/21), compared with an 8.8/17 (7.5/17) for WRC; a 7.8/16 (7.2/17) for the first half-hour of news on WJLA and an 8.2/16 (7.8/16) for the second half-hour; a 5.9/11 (8.1/18) for the sitcoms on WTTG; and a 4.7/9 (2.2/5) for "Ninja Turtles" and "Growing Pains" on WDCA ...

From 6 to 7 p.m. M-F: WUSA's first again with an 11.7/19 (10.8/20), followed by WRC at 10.8/18 (10.3/19), WTTG at 9.0/15 (8.9/17) with "Who's the Boss?" and "Three's Company"; WJLA's half-hour of news at 8.6/15 (compared with a 7.8/16 for the 5:30 to 6:30 block a year ago); and a 3.8/6 (2.5/5) for WDCA, with "ALF" and "Mama's Family" ...

In the network news race: "ABC World News Tonight With Peter Jennings" on WJLA at 6:30 is first at 13.5/22 (11.4/21); followed by "NBC Nightly News With Tom Brokaw" on WRC at 11.2/18 (10.3/18); and "CBS Evening News With Dan Rather" on WUSA at 11.1/17 (8.7/15) ...

Jennings seems to be pulling away in this market but Rather, just a step behind Brokaw, showed the biggest improvement over the year ...

And for the timing-is-everything file: Since Jan. 14, when WFTY introduced its "7:30 Headline News" -- produced by the WRC news organization on weeknights -- the show has been virtually unseen, failing to register a rating in the Nielsen book, compared with the 1/1 various shows in that time period registered on WFTY a year ago ...

The war broke two nights after it premiered, and of course viewers, creatures of habit all, weren't likely to start shopping for alternative news sources just then ...

From 11 to 11:30 p.m. M-F: Channel 4 was first at 11.9/24 (11.4/26), followed by WUSA at 10.1/20 (10.2/22) and WJLA at 8.1/16 (6.7/15) ...

WTTG's 10 o'clock news averaged a 10.8/17 (9/16) ...