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EARTHQUAKE AFTERSHOCKS FOR TV

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Earthquake aftershocks . . .

THE WORLD SERIES re-scheduling that we talked about yesterday has created some major programming problems for ABC.With Game Four set to air Saturday night, the season premiere of the ABC Saturday Mystery Movie is out. That means you'll have to wait until Nov. 4 to see the return of Telly Savalas as Kojak. That'll also push back premieres for the other spokes of the "Mystery Movie" wheel - "B.L. Stryker," "Columbo" and Jaclyn Smith's "Christine Cromwell."

But that's a simple matter compared to the complications now facing the network's Sunday night line-up. For a couple of years now ABC has been trumpeting the arrival of The Final Days, a three-hour made-for-TV movie based on Bob Woodward and Carl Berstein's account of the last moments of the Nixon administration. Now the much-anticipated, heavily-promoted special is in the tenuous position of holding a time period that can best be described as "tentative."

If there is a fifth World Series game, it will be played Sunday night, bumping "The Final Days" out of schedule. But if the A's win Games Three and Four, "The Final Days" will play as scheduled.

Pretty clear-cut, right? Well, yes. But one of the things networks count on for shows like this is a lot of advance publicity - cover stories, interviews and reviews. But since we won't know for sure whether or not the show is going to air until late Saturday, television editors around the country are deciding what to do.

For example, we decided to pull the planned "Final Days" cover story from our TV Week magazine this week because we don't want to run a story about a movie that may not even air. Doubtless other editors are doing the same thing (except at TV Guide, which was in print before the new World Series schedule was announced). If the movie does air Sunday, it will do so without the benefit of a lot of the publicity it would have otherwise received.

And if there's a Game Seven, it will bump a Barbara Walters Special that will feature interviews with Kathleen Turner, Ted Danson and Fergie, the Duchess of York.

Don't worry - both "The Final Days" and the "Barbara Walters Special" will be re-scheduled if they are pushed aside for Bays-ball. But what happens if the extra games become necessary, and then are canceled at the last minute because of bad weather? I don't even want to think about it. And neither, I'm sure, does ABC.

-IF YOU WERE WONDERING why it took so long for NBC to get on the air with live earthquake coverage last week, you weren't alone. So was NBC News President Michael Gartner. In fact, he's still trying to figure it out.

"Let me express my dismay and anger over our not being on the air right away Tuesday night," Gartner wrote to NBC News employees in his regular division-wide memo last week. "We had problems and confusion that were not related to the technical problems of getting material from our affiliate.

"This is just unacceptable," he continued. "Period."

Last week NBC News officials were claiming the network was slowed because of technical difficulties at KRON, San Francisco's NBC affiliate. But a KRON spokesman indicated that they were back on the air a full half-hour before NBC chose to join them - and more than an hour after CBS and ABC went live with earthquake coverage.

"I don't think we have a workable procedure for dealing with crises like this," Gartner observed. Which is why he has charged executive news editor Don Browne to come up with "a fail-safe procedure to ensure that we're never again late in getting on the air."

-SPEAKING OF LOCAL COVERAGE, the San Francisco Earthquake of 1989 may go down in television history as the moment local TV news became Important. For one of the first times in a story of such national significance, the reporting done by Bay-area journalists wasn't offered as a supplement to network coverage. It was the network coverage, with networks turning over huge chunks of time to the local affiliates to follow the story.

There were hits and there were misses as far as the caliber of the reporting is concerned. But no more - and no less - than if the networks had been on hand with their full complement of correspondents. (Or hadn't you noticed how little the presence of Dan Rather, Tom Brokaw and Peter Jennings added to follow-up network coverage last week?)

-ALSO SCORING POINTS for the future of television news: the home video camera. As video technology becomes more available to more amateur photographers, it becomes abundantly clear that anytime a big story breaks, somebody somewhere has it on tape - and is willing to sell. (Thomas and Debbie Kelly of Ringwood, Okla., sold the video they shot on the Oakland Bay Bridge to no fewer than three different news outlets.)

If this technology had been available in 1963 there would be no mystery about the Kennedy assassination because we'd have video shot from every imaginable angle - including two or three from behind "the grassy knoll."