Combined Communications Corp., a Phoenix company that has an agreement to buy WJLA-TV in Washington, reportedly is discussing a possible merger with Coca-Cola Bottling Co., of New York.
An announcement by Combined yesterday said only that the firm "is presently having exploratory conversations" with a larger company on a possible combination of the two.
Media industry sources said Coca-Cola of New York is one firm engaged in such talks with Combined. The sources said also that Combined is engaged in still other talks with another-party - which Combined conformed.
Combined's official statement said the second discussions concerned a "significant acquisition of its own."
Further, said the Phoneix broadcasting newspaper and outdoor advertising firm, both talks are in preliminary stages and reflect a company policy of considering "opportunities" that may be in the best interests of stock-holders.
The talks are not related to Combined's pending transaction with Washington Star Communications Inc., involving acquisition of WJLA (Channel 7) for KOCO-TV in Oklahoma City and $55 million of nonvoting, preferred stock, Combined stated.
Lawrence Wilson, chief counsel for the Phoenix firm, declined to identify the companies with which talks are under way.
Similarly, Coca-Cola of New York Chairman Charles Mallard said his firm does not comment on potential merger or acquisition talks.
Coca-Cola of New York, a firm not related to the Coca-Cola Co. of Atlanta, enterted the broadcast business last year with the acquisition of WNYS-TV (since changed to WIXT) in Syracuse, N.Y. Coca-Cola of New York's new broadcast subsidiary is headed by Larry Israel, a former president of The Washington Post Co. who departed the firm early in 1977 to pursue projects "in television and related fields."
The New York firm, with a head-quarters in Hackensack, N.J., is engaged principally in soft drink bottling .Annual revenues last year were $315 million. When the company set up its broadcast division, it indicated plans to expand by purchases of stations across the country.
Combined, with annual sales of more than $200 million, purchased the Oakland Tribune last year. It also owns the Cincinnati Enquirer: TV stations in Little Rock, Denver, Phoenix, Louisville, Ft. Wayne, Atlanta and Oklahoma City; radio stations in four cities (including Hackensack, the Coca-Cola headquarters); and a major outdoor advertising business which produce some 40 percent of annual revenues.
Wilson, the Combined spokesman, said a contract with Washington Star Chairman and owner Joe L. Allbritton on the sale of WJLA continued in effect last night and indefinitely - subject to the decision of either party to withdraw pending a court suit that challenges the swap.