The Securities and Exchange Commission appears to have lost an 11-year battle to have a weekly New York financial newspaper and its publisher register with the commission under the Investment Advisers Act of 1940.
U.S. District Court Judge Lee Gagliardi ruled last week that "on the basis of the undisputed facts befor the court," the Wall Street Transcript and publisher Richard Holman were not investment advisers as defined by the act.
The case has been viewed as a significant test of the freedom of the financial press from regulation or other interference by the SEC.
The 1940 act specially exempts "the publisher of any bona fide newspaper, news magazine and business or financial publication of general and regular circulation" from registration with the SEC.
But the SEC had contended that the Transcript, which primarily reprints brokerage house reports either verbatim or in summary form, gives investment advice and therefore fell under the act.
Citing an earlier court of appeal's decision which said the issue was whether a publication offers "professional investment advice without revealing the possibility of personal gain to the publisher from what he reports or how he presents ti," Judge Gagliardi daid there was no evidence to show that the Transcript received compensation from anyone other than subscribers for what it published or that it ever published an item to influence the price of a stock.
SEC general counsel Harvey Pitt said the commission had yet to decide whether it will appeal the ruling.