For Republican debates, a race among the networks to be first to air one in primetime

The Republican debates, which so far have provided a ratings bump for the cable networks that carry them, are coming to network television.

On Monday, NBC announced that its January 23, 2012 debate in Florida--co-sponsored by the National Journal and St. Petersburg Times--will be moderated by Brian Williams and broadcast live. (The debate will also stream live on and, as well as air on Telemundo with simultaneous Spanish-language translation.)

In its announcement, NBC touted the event as the first weekday primetime airing of a primary debate on a broadcast network in the 2012 election cycle. In January, NBC will broadcast a Sunday morning debate during a special edition of "Meet The Press." The last GOP debate that NBC sponsored--on Sept. 7--was broadcast on MSNBC.

Also on Monday, ABC News announced that its previously announced Republican debate in Des Moines, Iowa, will take place on Saturday, Dec. 10, and that the network will broadcast it in primetime. The event--moderated by Diane Sawyer and George Stephanopoulos--will stream live on, part of Yahoo's big partnership with ABC News. The debate will also re-air the next day on "This Week with Christiane Amanpour." In its release, ABC touted the event as "the only broadcast network debate in primetime before the caucuses."

But on Tuesday, CBS announced that it would broadcast a GOP primary debate from South Carolina's Wofford College on Saturday, Nov. 12 at 8 p.m. ET--trumpeting that event as "the first Republican Presidential Primary debate on broadcast television."

"The first debate of the campaign on broadcast television will be on CBS," CBS News president David Rhodes crowed in a release.

However, CBS will only show the first hour of the 90-minute debate live on network television. The rest will be broadcast on, and "will be available to CBS affiliate television and radio stations." Like NBC and ABC, CBS plans to show portions of the Scott Pelley-moderated affair the next morning on its Sunday morning talk show, "Face the Nation."

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