Stock Exchange Mulls Forcing Media to Reveal Conflicts

"After the bubble burst, the [New York Stock Exchange] regulators decided that it was not nice for an analyst to tout a stock without mentioning that he owned the stock or that his employer was the company's investment banker. So they ruled that such conflicts had to be disclosed. Fair enough. But to whom? Many investors learn analysts' opinions not from reading brokerage reports but from news media reports. So the Big Board said that the firms had to make sure that broadcasters who quoted the analysts had to pass on the disclosure. The broadcasters said, in effect, what about the newspapers? And that is how the new rule came to be. ... The S.E.C. will decide which rule will be approved. Annette L. Nazareth, the commission's director of market
regulation, ... voiced concern that if information on conflicts is not passed on by the news media, 'then we have achieved very little' by requiring disclosure. 'You'd think," she said, "that the same outlets that were saying what a terrible wrong was done to the public would want to cooperate.'"