Time Inc. and Warner Communications Inc. executives say the two years of talks that led to their $18 billion merger agreement ensure a harmonious future. But the new company's unprecedented size daunted some competitors in the entertainment industry.

"I don't know of an item we didn't explore," Warner Chairman Steven J. Ross said Sunday. "That is one of the things that makes me feel very secure in the future."The companies announced Saturday they would join forces in a merger of equals that would value the combined company, Time Warner Inc., at $18 billion and make it the world's biggest media conglomerate.

Time Inc. Chairman J. Richard Munro predicted the two companies would merge their cable operations, which still would rank second behind Tele-Communications Inc. of Denver.

The prospective marriage of Warner's production businesses with a channel like HBO concerned some independent filmmakers. HBO has often relied on independent studios for material.

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TIME-LAPSE

Newsweek magazine scooped its chief rival, Time, on news of the proposed merger between Time Inc. and Warner Communications Inc. Newsweek included a story on the proposed week included a story on the proposed deal in its March 13 issue, but this week's Time is silent on the merger. Time spokesman Louis J. Slovinsky said Time Inc. wanted to include the merger announcement in the same issues of its other weekly magazines, People and Sports illustrated.