CNN Cashes In on Donald Trump Debate With Record Ad Rates

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The network is asking between $150,000 and $200,000 for a 30-second spot for its Sept. 16 face-off.

CNN has amended its criteria for inclusion in its upcoming Republican debate, essentially clearing the way for GOP aspirant Carly Fiorina to participate in the Sept. 16 primetime face-off. But it is Donald Trump who is likely helping the network cash in.

With tune-in expected to break records, CNN is asking between $150,000 and $200,000 for a 30-second spot, multiple sources tell The Hollywood Reporter. A typical primetime spot during a debate would fetch $5,000.

Trump has stated that he wants CNN Worldwide president Jeff Zucker to pay him $10 million to appear at the debate, via a donation to a charity of Trump's choice. Zucker has not weighed in. But the record 24 million tune in for the Aug. 6 Republican debate on Fox News Channel has certainly enabled CNN to demand such rich ad rates in the scatter market.

CNN announced its criteria for inclusion in the debate back in May, saying it would use an average of approved national polls from July 16 through Sept. 10. But there has been a paucity of polls since the Fox News debate, thus skewing more heavily toward earlier polls. Now, CNN will include any candidate who ranks in the top 10 in national polling between Aug. 7 and Sept. 10. Jake Tapper will moderate the debate from the Ronald Reagan Library in Simi Valley, Calif. The network is expected to announce its participant roster Sept. 10.

Fiorina earned raves  and donor cash  for her performance at the Aug. 6 debate for second-tier Republicans, the so-called “kid's table debate” that was also moderated by Fox News anchors. She took some shots at Trump and also defended Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly against Trump's attacks. In an Aug. 9 interview with Face the Nation's John Dickerson, Fiorina said that women were “horrified” by Trump's remarks about Kelly. 

Like Trump, Fiorina, the former CEO of Hewlett-Packard, is running on her bona fides as a business executive. So the stage appears to be set for fireworks.