Allied Progress, which is opposed to the Sinclair-Tribune deal, says it has placed a six-figure TV ad buy in Iowa to try to get viewers to pressure Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) to hold hearings on the proposed merger.
Sinclair would own or control a dozen stations in the state if the deal goes through, the group points out.
Grassley is chairman of the House Judiciary Committee.
The group says Grassley has done nothing to scrutinize the merger despite the companies "many controversies."
In that category Allied Progress puts the fact that Sinclair could reach 72% of TV households given the UHF discount, the company's much-talked-about "fake news" talking points for anchors and other must-run segments, and a decade-old retransmission consent dispute with Mediacom, among others.
The ad says that "those choosing to compete in the state’s cherished Iowa Caucuses may be forced to face much more than a field of other candidates if the Sinclair-Tribune merger succeeds."
It also cites a poll commissioned by the group that found large numbers of viewers in the state oppose the deal, including 67% of Republicans.
The poll was conducted by Global Strategy Group among 604 registered voters April 25-29 and has a margin of error of plus or minus 4%.
It has been almost a years since Sinclair filed the deal for review by Justice and the FCC. It has adjusted the deal three times to address concerns about local market ownership issues and to square it with Justice Department concerns about control of ad inventory as well as new, looser, media ownership rules from the FCC that Sinclair pushed for.