Go tell it on the Web ? later p.14

By: Kelvin Childs Companies whose stock trades on the NASDAQ market may not release information on their Web sites before disclosing it via conventional news outlets, according to a new rule.
Current rules require companies to disclose to the traditional news media information "material" to the business ? that is, whatever affects the value of a shareholder's securities, including mergers, acquisitions, joint ventures, stock splits, dividends, or takeover bids.
The amended rule, proposed by the National Association of Securities Dealers Inc., parent of the NASDAQ stock market, is in response to the increased use of the Internet as a vehicle for disseminating securities information. In its filing in the Federal Register, NASDAQ calls the Internet "a valuable disclosure resource that can enhance the orderly dissemination of material information for all shareholders and market participants." But the rule makes clear that companies may not release material on the World Wide Web without also distributing it to traditional outlets such as Dow Jones News Service, Reuters, Bloomberg Business News, Business Wire, PR Newswire, The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times.
And when information is released on the Web, it may not be not subject to embargo, the rule stipulates.
"While NASDAQ believes that it is generally in the public interest to encourage widespread dissemination of information to investors through the Internet," it says, "NASDAQ also believes that it is important to maintain a level playing field for all investors, including those who do not have Internet access or who may not generally rely on the Internet as their primary source of material for corporate news."
The Securities and Exchange Commission announced the rule change Feb. 1.
NASDAQ-listed companies still must notify NASDAQ at least 10 minutes before releasing material information through any outlet.
NASDAQ spokesman Mike Shokouhi says that member companies pushed for the rule change to clarify for everybody how the Internet may be used to distribute company news.
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