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CNN Changes Debate Eligibility

With the support of the Republican National Committee, CNN has amended the eligibility rules for participants in the Sept. 16 Republican presidential debate, which the cable net is telecasting.

The move came after results from three of the polls CNN is using to determine participants had been released, and CNN had learned that only two more polls were likely to come out by the Sept. 10 cut-off date.

CNN had expected more polls following the first GOP debate on Aug. 6.

"In a world where we expected there to be at least 15 national polls, based on historic precedent, it appears there will be only five. As a result, we now believe we should adjust the criteria to ensure the net debate [to] best reflects the most current state of the national race," said CNN in a statement.

The adjustment means that any candidate who is polling in the top 10 in an average of national polls between Aug. 7 and Sept. 10 will be added to those who are in the top 10 in the original July 16-Sept. 10 poll average, which will make it possible that more than 10 candidates will participate in the debate.

For example, Carly Fiorina, whose stock has been rising since the first debate, would not have been in the debate if it were held tomorrow per the July-September average, but would be added per the new accounting.

"I applaud CNN for recognizing the historic nature of this debate and fully support the network's decision to amend their criteria," said RNC Chairman Reince Priebus, according to CNN, which announced the change on-air Tuesday afternoon.

The potential absence of Fiorina, who has been rising in what polls have been released, had drawn some criticism given that earlier polls before her Aug. 6 debate performance would have carried far more weight and could have excluded her even though she was on the rise.

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.