Fox News Makes Room for All GOP Debaters

Fox News is adjusting its coverage and hosting of the first Republican presidential debate to accommodate the historically large field of candidates, which could be 17 by the Aug. 6 debate date.

Fox and Facebook are teaming on that primetime debate for the top 10 polling candidates, but Fox is also providing an "undercard" debate -- preceding the main event -- featuring the balance of the candidates.

Just yesterday, Fox relaxed its requirement for participation in that second (chronologically first) debate among the non-top 10 pollers to make sure all the candidates had a forum. Initially, it was requiring polling at least 1%.

Fox News at first planned to air the "undercard debate" in the afternoon of Aug. 6 between 1 and 3 p.m., but later decided to move it to 5-6 p.m. to have it be closer to the primetime debate -- making it more of a debate event package -- and as a lead-in to Special Report with Bret Baier.

Fox will also use some video from the early debate in the main event coverage, so those second-tier candidates will get primetime exposure.

“As we noted when we first announced the debate criteria, our intention has always been to provide coverage to the wide field of Republican candidates," Fox News EVP Michael Clemente said when announcing the second debate.

The pre-debate debate will be hosted by Bill Hemmer and Martha MacCallum.

John Eggerton

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.