The Democratic National Committee (DNC) announced that it's going to sanction six primary Democratic debates beginning this fall.
The debates will be sponsored by a combination of state Democratic parties, national and local media companies and civic organizations. Each of the early-voting states of Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina will host a DNC debate.
DNC Chair Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz said in a statement that the debates should "give voters ample opportunity to see candidates side-by-side, while remaining manageable for all of the candidates."
The committee says that the schedule of six debates "is consistent with the precedent set" in 2004 and 2008, but this year, the DNC is also implementing an exclusivity requirement, requiring any candidate or debate sponsor interested in participating to do so exclusively, that is, to respect the sanctions set by the DNC.
Likely presidential candidate Martin O'Malley already appears to be chafing at the exclusivity requirement. His spokesperson, Lis Smith, told CBS News in a statement, "If Governor O'Malley decides to run, we will expect a full, robust, and inclusive set of debates--both nationally and in early primary and caucus states. This has been customary in previous primary seasons. In a year as critical as 2016, exclusivity does no one any favors."
Hillary Clinton, for her part, welcomed the debates in a Tweet, saying she was "looking forward to a real conversation," though she didn't say whether she was willing to debate six times with her Democratic opponents.
Debate partners, cities, dates and other host states will be released later.