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KUTV LOSES BASKETBALL GAME TO ESPN

The second BYU vs. Utah basketball game of the season won't be played until Saturday night, but there's already been one loser - KUTV.

Ch. 2 had planned to broadcast the contest, but then ESPN decided it wanted it. And under terms of a Western Athletic Conference contract with the cable network, what ESPN wants, ESPN gets. Exclusively.In other words, there will be no live, local broadcast of the Utes and the Cougars. Cable subscribers across the country will be able to see the game, but non-cable subscribers in Utah won't.

And if you're unhappy about that, just think how unhappy they are at KUTV, what with all the advertising revenue they saw go down the drain.BOOBY PRIZE: Last week's Grammy Awards won the night for CBS, but was the second lowest-rated Grammys ever.

And all questions of content aside, any awards show that lasts just over four hours is a failure, as far as your local television editor is concerned.STILL NOT ANIMATED: The Academy of Television Arts and Sciences, in its finite wisdom, has again denied "The Simpsons" an opportunity to compete in the outstanding comedy series category.

So, once again, instead of going up against "Murphy Brown" and "Cheers," it will compete with Garfield and Bugs Bunny.

"The Simpsons" might not win as best comedy, but it deserves the chance to try - a chance the shows producers keep fighting for.

Perhaps the Emmy folks might want to look across town at the Academy Award nominees. The fact that "Beauty and the Beast" is animated didn't prevent it from being nominated for best picture.

ATAS has created a new category for voice-over actors. (Of course, that means "The Simpsons" actors will be segregated once again.)

In happier news, the Academy has created separate categories for TV movies and TV miniseries. (At least that makes sense.)COMING OUR WAY: Linda Lavin, who starred as "Alice" for nine seasons, returns to TV in the ABC sitcom "Room For Two" on March 24.

She plays a recently widowed woman who, while visiting her TV producer daughter in New York, accidentally becomes a hit on a morning talk show.

I've seen the first couple of episodes, and it's quite good.

"Room For Two" will air Tuesdays at 8:30 p.m., right after "Roseanne."

("Coach" will be pre-empted for a few weeks, but it will return in May with new episodes. And it's a shoo-in for renewal next season)GOING OUT WITH A BANG: Reportedly, Bill Cosby has relented and will produce an hourlong finale for "The Cosby Show," which retires after this season.

The story will revolve around Theo's (Malcolm Jamal-Warner) college graduation. And it's all but certain that Theo will headline a show that will replace "Cosby" in the fall.MORE GOLD: There's no absolute confirmation on this, but it looks very much like three of "The Golden Girls" will return in a new series next season.

Bea Arthur definitely wants out, and will leave at the end of the season. The three remaining "Girls" - Betty White, Rue McClanahan and Estelle Getty - will run a small hotel in Miami Beach. The hotel and the show will be called "The Golden Palace."

And, yes, this does seem to be a sign that NBC doesn't have a whole lot of good ideas for new shows.BOB'S A DAD: Bob Newhart will definitely be back with yet another sitcom on CBS this fall, and it will be produced by the crew that's been running things on "Cheers."

No word on what the concept is yet, but we do know that unlike his previous two sitcoms, this time around Newhart will have a television child, a daughter - albeit a grown-up one.TAKE THE PLEDGE: During KBYU's current pledge drive, we're told over and over again that appeals for donations comprise less than 1 percent of Ch. 11's total programming schedule.

Now, the fact is that pledge drives are a necessary evil. And donating to public TV is a great way to promote better broadcasting.

But perhaps the point they're missing at KBYU is that the drives are so obnoxious that they seem like so much more than 1 percent of the airtime.