January 1, 2012

Mind your writings on stock markets, Sebi warns media

Chennai: Sebi Chairman U K Sinha has said the media should exercise more "self regulation" when it comes to writing about the stock market.

The market regulator plans to have interactions with media personnel in the coming months to make them aware about the "do's and don'ts" when reporting on the capital market.

"Sebi will have a series of interactions with media personnel on the do's and dont's in the industry. They should exchange notes (with Sebi) on what is happening in the industry and how to educate people. There is a need to educate the public," Sinha told PTI.

Currently, Sebi rules require media companies to disclose their interests or shareholding in listed companies while writing on them. Similarly, publicly traded firms are required to disclose details about their relationships with media companies.

Way back in 2007, then Sebi Chairman M Damodaran had mooted the idea of a self regulatory organisation for print and the electronic media, among others.

In August, 2010, Sebi made it mandatory for media groups to disclose details about private treaties for a stake in listed companies in lieu of promoting their brands.

The regulator had also made it compulsory for media houses to disclose in news reports their stakes in companies being written about.

"There are prescribed norms of journalistic conduct that require journalists to disclose any interest that they may have in the company about which they are reporting," Sebi had said in August, 2010.

"... However, there are no equivalent requirements in the case of media companies holding a stake in the company which is being reported or covered," it had said.

"Therefore, Sebi took up the issue with the Press Council of India, expressing its concerns on the practice of many media groups entering into agreements, such as 'private treaties', with companies," it had said in a statement.