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Fox News lowers entry requirements for second-tier GOP debate

Fox News announced another change to its August 6 Republican presidential candidate forum on Tuesday, removing the requirement that candidates clear at least one percent in an average of national polls to qualify for the second-tier debate.

The change ensures that all 16 of the GOP's major declared presidential contenders will participate in one of the two primary debates Fox News is hosting next month. The top 10 candidates in an average of national polls will square off in a two-hour debate at 9 p.m. on August 6 (more than 10 candidates could qualify if there is a tie for 10th place.) The six who do not qualify for the debate will now automatically qualify for a separate one-hour event at 5 p.m.

"FOX News is expanding participation in the 5 PM/ET debate to all declared candidates whose names are consistently being offered to respondents in major national polls, as recognized by Fox News," the cable network's vice president, Michael Clemente, told Politico in a statement. "All other components of the criteria remain in effect for the 5 PM/ET debate. Participants must meet all U.S. Constitutional requirements; must announce and register a formal campaign for president; and must file all necessary paperwork with the Federal Election Commission (FEC), including financial disclosure."

The second-tier forum was initially scheduled to be a two-hour affair at 1 p.m., but Fox News announced earlier this month that it would shorten the event to one hour and move it to 5 p.m., a move that's likely to increase the event's ratings.