The Republican National Committee has been working for months on creating a set of guidelines which will govern the upcoming 2016 primary debate season. Consdering the 2012 cycle saw over 20 GOP primary debates, there was a feeling within the party that more control was necessary in limiting the number of debates as well as selecting moderators and choosing venues.
Report from Time Magazine:
The Republican National Committee finalized plans Friday to seize control of GOP’s presidential primary debates, threatening sanctions against any candidate that participates in any unauthorized debates.
RNC Chairman Reince Priebus announced a 13-member committee of Republican officials who will set rules for the GOP’s debates during the 2016 cycle, including selecting venues, debate partners, and even moderators. The committee will be led by Priebus ally Steve Duprey of New Hampshire, who was close to both Mitt Romney and John McCain. The committee is dominated by Priebus loyalists.
“Our debates will be good for our candidates and for voters—not a field day for the media,” Priebus told members of the RNC on Friday in Chicago, shortly before the party approved its final rules for the 2016 presidential nomination fight.
As far as the sheer number of debates goes, it looks like the GOP is shooting for no more than ten separate debates:
The committee, party insiders said, will likely set eight or nine primary debates for the 2016 cycle, with no more than one in each early-voting state. The debates will be spaced evenly throughout the cycle.
This amounts to less than half the number of debates seen in the 2012 cycle but clearly the thinking is that a lower number will increase the impact of each event. The campaigns will likely appreciate this because debates take precious time away from campaigning. Typically a debate eats at least 2 or 3 days of campaigning in prep work before the debate and media cleanup after the debate. If we apply that to 2012, potentially two full months of time was devoted solely to debate prep and the debate broadcasts themselves.