So here’s the bad news.
RNS, the newswire used by most U.K. companies to distribute time-sensitive press releases, will require anyone wishing to receive announcements in real-time must register before Feb. 1, 2013. Anyone who fails to register will receive the press announcements after a 60-minute delay. There is no cost at this time to register.
WHO SHOULD USE IT AND WHY
Anyone who owns, trades or follows U.K. equities should register to avoid receiving delayed information. RNS says on its web site that it handles more than 175,000 announcements a year, including more than 70% of the price-sensitive disclosures about U.K. companies. The decision by RNS to require clients to register affects all information providers.
That message popped up on Bloomberg terminals on Thursday at 4pm. There is, at the time of writing, nothing on London Stock Exchange’s website to advertise the change. A call to LSE’s press office requesting details had not been returned.
The LSE started a customer consultation on RNS nearly a year ago, which included the possibility of charging for access either with your cash or your online identity. The idea appeared universally unpopular, since free and unfettered access to a single source of corporate record was seen as structural to the market rather than optional.
Officially speaking, RNS has been open to competition since 2002. Practically, however, it has retained a de facto monopoly on corporate information — as demonstrated by the 90 minute RNS outage earlier this month that left the London market paralysed.
Now, amid no fanfare whatsoever, it would appear that we are moving towards a two-tier access system. Bloomberg users have just over a day to register if they want to remain in the top tier. What happens to third-party aggregation sites such as Investegate and … well, FT.com … is not clear. Why the LSE seems not to have told us about any of this, even though we’re 32 hours away from implementation, is not clear.
Details and explanations will follow whenever we receive them. These may also be subject to a 60 minute delay.
LSE’s press office gets back to us. They say the rollout of registration barriers has been phased, with Reuters and other vendors already agreeing last year to the LSE’s request to mine their user information. Friday’s change will be for Bloomberg users only, the flak clarifies.
The barrier-free sites picking up the RNS feed have been told to identify customers by category, says the LSE flak. If they don’t want to ask users that question, or don’t want to feed this data back to source, they can’t have realtime access.