Radio & Television News Association

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

New Policy for Subpeona of Journalists

From the Associated Press:

(AP) The Securities and Exchange Commission announced a new policy on subpoenaing journalists Wednesday, responding to controversy over the agency's demands for records from three online columnists.

The policy adopted by Chairman Christopher Cox and the other four SEC commissioners calls for the agency to avoid issuing subpoenas ``that might impair the news gathering and reporting functions.''

On a case-by-case basis, the agency must try to strike a balance between two public interests, the policy says: the free flow of information and effective enforcement of securities laws. SEC attorneys must first try to exhaust other means and sources of information in an investigation before turning to media subpoenas.

In late February, after news reports had appeared about the SEC serving subpoenas for records on columnists for MarketWatch and Dow Jones Newswires in an investigation, Cox took the unusual step of halting the agency's pursuit of the subpoenas. He said that SEC enforcement attorneys should have consulted him because of the sensitivity of ordering journalists to hand over records.


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