For more than three months, a downtown singles bar, the Pierce Street Annex, satisfied the needs of soap opera junkies by showing a week's worth of "General Hospital" every Sunday. The ABC--TV soap opera enjoys something of a cult following, and Pierce Street Annex knew working women often missed the 3 p.m. daily presentation. So the bar taped each day's episode, and the Sunday showing attracted bout 70 women as well as some local media coverage.

Never again.

Apparently the press coverage of Pierce Street Annex's activity caught the eye of bosses at ABC. And three weeks ago a telegram from an ABC attorney in New York arrived addressed to Martin Davis, one of the owners of the bar, demanding he "cease and desist from this unlawful activity." By taping the soap and reshowing it, Davis violated copyright laws. Davis says he knew that all along, but that "50,000 bars in this country tape the Super Bowl and Monday night football and replay them for their male audiences." Davis tried to convince ABC attorney Patricia Murphy that she was discriminating against women by banning their Sunday soap soiree.

But Murphy wasn't moved, telling Davis, in effect, "Don't touch that dial." So Davis dropped her a note.

"Acting upon the advice of the law firm Squeezem, Squeezem and Makempay, our legal counsel," wrote Davis, "please be advised of the following: WE SURRENDER."