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ICI Bars Press from Law Conference

The Investment Company Institute has barred the press from attending an upcoming conference on mutual fund law, a conference to which the press had been invited. Even before the press was disinvited, the institute had said the conference would be almost entirely off the record.

Only Mutual Fund Market News and one other news organization had registered to attend the Securities Law Developments Conference on Dec. 9-10 in Washington, D.C., said Kate Ennis, a spokesperson for the ICI. She declined to identify the other organization.

Ennis declined to say what prompted the move. But, she said the ICI's information department had decided on the change this month. The decision came as part of an ICI review of its policy regarding press attendance at conferences, Ennis said.

The ICI, a private, non-profit membership group, holds conferences throughout the year. Historically, reporters have been welcome at some conferences, such as the general membership meeting in May, and barred from others, such as conferences for directors and training conferences for fund employees. In some cases, the press has been excluded from a few sessions at an otherwise open conference.

Reporters attend the open conferences and receive materials distributed at those conferences free of charge. ICI members, vendors and others in the mutual fund industry who attend conferences pay fees.

The Securities Law Developments Conference had been a hybrid, open to reporters but almost entirely off the record. Reporters in recent years have been free to report on the speech which the director of the SEC's division of investment management customarily delivers at the start of the conference. After that speech, reporters have been welcome to remain but have not been permitted to report speakers' remarks.

Reporters were also welcome to attend the ICI's Equity Markets Conference in early November but with the understanding that the entire conference was off the record.

The general meeting will remain open to the press, Ennis said. The ICI will decide on press access at other conferences on a case-by-case basis, she said.