Conservative news media outlets and personalities may find it tough to participate in the upcoming Republican presidential primary debates, which will be fewer and more tightly organized than the sprawling debates of the 2012 campaign. And many prominent conservatives are unsure they want to participate at all.

Final decisions on conservative participants are up to the Republican National Committee, an RNC spokesman told the Washington ExaminerThursday. In 2013 the RNC announced it would be taking more control of the GOP presidential primary debate process, mandating fewer debates and a requirement that mainstream TV news outlets hosting them include a "conservative element," such as a conservative panelist.

But fewer debates this election cycle — there are 12 on the RNC's schedule — means there is scarce opportunity for conservative news outlets to participate, should they want to.

"We're not here to pick winners and losers in conservative media," said Sean Spicer, communications director for the RNC. "Every one of them is more than capable of making their own pitch. We want to facilitate conservative media becoming a part of this. It's a question of them creating a partnership with the networks and we're happy to facilitate that and that's it."

Spicer said it is up to the TV networks, like ABC, CBS and CNN, to find conservative media to incorporate into their respective debates. The partnerships can be as simple as finding a panelist to ask questions.

"We're not telling them who they have to partner with but they run it by us and we say that's a good idea or that's a bad idea," Spicer said. "We're not dictating stuff to them."

CNN, for example, partnered with Salem Communications, which owns several conservative news publications and syndicates some conservative radio hosts. One of the hosts, Hugh Hewitt, was tapped by CNN to participate in the network's GOP primary debate in September. CNN, though, was already in talks with Salem prior to the debate arrangement, according to a source at the network.

A potentially tricky situation for the RNC will be evaluating which news outlets and personalities qualify as "conservative."

Spicer said that determination is ultimately up to the RNC. He would not elaborate on how that decision is made.

"Ultimately the goal is to have people who are representing and reporting on the issues that grassroots conservative and activists care," said Spicer.

A source at the RNC said, however, that the committee is making a deliberate effort not to include more "establishment" media conservatives, such as George Will of the Washington Post or even Charles Krauthammer, a popular Fox News contributor who also writes a column for the Post. The source added that while the aforementioned personalities and others might be well-liked, they will not be a part of the debates, at least not the ones hosted by TV networks other than Fox News. Planning for the debates has by and large not been finalized.

Meanwhile, conservative media outlets are determining whether they even want to be included in the debates in an official capacity.

Rob Bluey, editor-in-chief of the Daily Signal, a Heritage Foundation news site, said he's interested in the Signal's playing some role in a debate, but not necessarily as a participant. "We're interested in having some role but we're only in early stages of talking internally at this point," he said.

Breitbart News Executive Chairman Steve Bannon, however, said he is not interested in participating. "We'd like to keep our independence," he said.

Glenn Beck's TheBlaze, perhaps the most successful right-leaning news aggregator on the web, is also unlikely to serve in any official capacity, a source at the outlet said, pointing to Beck's previous efforts to "defund the GOP."

Even so, at the annual Conservative Political Action Conference last weekend, RNC Chairman Reince Priebus championed the debate changes as a win against the left.

"No more field day for the liberal media," he said.

ABC, NBC, CBS and Fox News all declined to comment or did not return requests for comment.