Frontline (PBS, 9-10:30 p.m.): General Motors, bastion of big-business prosperity and long a metaphor for corporate America, showed a $23.5 billion loss last year - the biggest corporate loss ever recorded. The jobs of some 736,000 GM workers are at stake, along with millions of other jobs among the company's suppliers.

How this happened - how a company that once defined stability could take such a plunge - is the topic of ``Heartbeat of America,'' a documentary that launches this distinguished series' 12th season. Former GM workers, from board members to designers to people on the line, are interviewed in an effort to unearth the self-destructive culture that prevailed so long at GM, and that insiders say explains its decline. At the heart of the culture, according to former executive vice president Elmer Johnson and others, was this unwritten code: Bad news is not acceptable. A sharp young executive who might try to tell a superior, ``Look, there's a problem,'' quickly learned instead to report only good news.

The program suggests that this was one reason why the once-mighty company failed to respond to Japan's smaller, more fuel-efficient, and - for several years - just plain better cars. An insulated, board-room-oriented management dropped behind the times. GM's corporate culture brought it down.

Baseball playoffs (CBS, 8 p.m., E.T. to conclusion): The Toronto Blue Jays face the White Sox at Chicago's Comiskey Park in Game 6 of the American League Championship Series to determine the pennant winner. * WEDNESDAY

Baseball playoffs (CBS, 3 p.m., E.T. to conclusion): The Atlanta Braves play the Phillies at Philadelphia's Veterans Stadium in Game 5 of the National League Championship Series; (CBS, 8 p.m. E.T. to conclusion): Toronto at Chicago for Game 6.

Evening News From Moscow (C-Span, 7:25-8 a.m., E.T.): A Russian broadcast with simultaneous English translation.

Please check local listings for these programs.

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