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MARKET ABUSE DIRECTIVE EXPOSES JOURNALISTS TO CRIMINAL LIABILITY:

Added: (Tue Jun 19 2001)

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MARKET ABUSE DIRECTIVE EXPOSES JOURNALISTS TO CRIMINAL LIABILITY:

EPC ASKS FOR EXEMPTION

A draft directive on market manipulation could leave journalists vulnerable to criminal liability, thanks to the ambiguous wording of the latest text drafted by DG Internal Market. The European Publishers Council (EPC), a high-level group of CEOs and Chairmen of leading European media corporations, has written to Commissioner Bolkestein asking for an exemption to this directive for the media "for journalistic purposes".

The objective of the directive is to legislate against anyone who manipulates the financial services market. However, the current wording of the text would jeopardise news reporting and analysis since mere editorial mistakes could amount to criminal market manipulation.

At a recent meeting, Commission officials assured a delegation from the EPC that there was no intention to impose new regulation on the media and that the wording would be amended to clarify this.

The EPC requested that the media be exempted for the purposes of news reporting, information provision and analysis – whilst seeking a form of words which would ensure that any person, including journalists, would be bound by the provisions of the directive in terms of wilfully and unlawfully creating market abuse. This approach is consistent with the wording in the Data Protection Directive which addresses the same issue of exemption for journalistic reporting.

Unfortunately, the published text is ambiguous - "Member States may decide to introduce specific provisions to cover persons acting for journalistic purposes…" - therefore seeming to encourage Member States to introduce new statutory rules for the media rather than making an exemption.

Francisco Pinto Balsemao, Chairman of the EPC said: "Since it is clearly not the intention of the Commission to create this serious problem for our profession, we are hopeful that Commissioner Bolkestein will oversee the inclusion of a clear and unambiguous exemption for the media in place of the current wording."

For more information, please contact Heidi Lambert Communications in Brussels on Tel: +322 732 5546 or Angela Mills in the UK on Tel: +44 1865 310 732.

ENDS. 18 JUNE 2001






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