If I were asked for an alternative format..... here is what I would suggest.
Maximum of 6 candidates.... the highest in a compilation of 5 CREDIBLE polling service
Debate time: TWO hours....... that's 120 minutes. Back out 15 minutes for commercials (105 left)
Moderators (no matter how many) get equal to ask a question. Total time for ASKING questions will be 8 minutes.
EVERY PARTICIPANT (CANDIDATES AND MODERATORS) WILL HAVE A CLOCK THAT CONTROLS THEIR MIC.
EACH CANDIDATE WILL HAVE A CLOCK THAT READS 15 + 1 MINUTES. When a candidate wants to speak, they hit a switch and their clock starts and their mic comes on and EVERY OTHER MIC (including those of the moderators) AND CLOCKS ARE CUT OFF. When a candidate's 15 minutes are up, he/she will remain silent until the end of the debate, when the candidate will get ONE final minute to close. If a candidate chooses to use his/her entire 15 minutes on one question, that's fine..... stand quietly until closing statements.
Same for the moderators.... they will divide their 'asking' time amongst themselves however they choose, and when he/she is outta time.... they can sit politely and LISTEN to the debate.
For the closing statements, the candidates can draw a number, 1-6, and that is the order they will speak in.
120 minutes - 15 minutes (commercials/breaks)= 105 minutes
105 minutes - 8 minutes (moderators) = 97 minutes
97 minutes - 96 minutes (candidates) = 1 minute
Final one minute will be split between a 30 second 'Welcome to the debate' greeting..... and a 30 second 'Thank you for joining us tonight'Orderly debate..... problem solved!
(Personally I like the food fight approach! LOL)