The Federal Communications Commission yesterday delayed final approval of a proposal to exchange WJLA-TV here for a station in Oklahoma City, under an agreement between WJLA-owner Washington Star Communications Inc. and Combined Communications Corp., of Phoenix.
Acting on a request by four Washington citizens organizations, the agency extended until noon Monday, from today, the deadline by which they must respond to statements filed on Tuesday by financier Joe L. Allbritton, owner of Washington Star Communications.
Since the Washington Star-Combined Communications' contract requires final FCC approval by Friday, the action yesterday left up to Allbritton a decision on whether to extend that contract provision - a decision he had not made as of last night. The contract, under which Allbritton would gain KOCO-TV in Oklahoma City, also requires final aproval by the two companies by next Tuesday.
A spokesman for Allbritton, lawyer Berl Bernhard, said of the FCC last Night: "They make our job exceedingly difficult to comply with their own rules. We hope we can straighten it out." An FCC spokesman said the two companies could extend the Friday deadline and that the agency could make a final determination early next week.
In Phoenix, Combined chief counsel Lawrence R. Wilson said, "We're not positive what (FCC delay) does, we want to see it through and if it requires an extension, we would be willing."
Wilson said, however, that Combined Communications has had no word from Allbritton on whether the WJLA owner is willing to extend the requirement for final CC action by Friday.
Originally, the FCC decided last Friday that Allbritton would have to answer questions by Tuesday about Time Inc.'s plans to buy The Washington Star and that the citizens groups must respond by today. Allbritton met the FCC's deadline.
The citizens groups - D.C. Media Task Force, Adams Morgan Organization, National Organization for Women and National Black Media Coalition - asked for a 10-day response period on Tuesday.