The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission is reviewing a proposed rule that could affect some variable product sellers’ media relations operations.

The SEC is reviewing efforts by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority to adopt FINRA Rule 5230, “Payments Involving Publications That Influence The Market Price Of A Security.”

The FINRA rule, based on NASD Rule 3330 – a rule adopted by the National Association of Securities Dealers, a FINRA predecessor organization – governs interactions with the media that do not consist of paid advertising.

The existing rule provides that no member may “directly or indirectly, give, permit to be given, or offer to give, anything of value to any person for the purpose of influencing or rewarding the action of such person in connection with the publication or circulation in any newspaper, investment service or similar publication, of any matter which has, or is intended to have, an effect upon the market price of any security,” SEC officials write in a notice about the proposed rule published today in the Federal Register.

FINRA defines variable annuities and variable life insurance policies as securities, and it regulates the affairs of FINRA members that sell those products.

FINRA wants to modernize the media payola rule to make it clear that the rule applies to dealings with magazines, websites, television programs and other electronic and non-electronic media, according to a summary prepared for the SEC by FINRA staffers.

FINRA also wants to broaden the provision that exempts paid advertising, to make it clear that the rule exempts properly disclosed compensation paid in connection with research reports and similar publications.

The NASD recognized that members would and could help pay for and distribute third-party research reports, FINRA staffers write.

FINRA believes that sort of publication support can be permitted, as long as required disclosures are made, FINRA staffers write.

Public comments on the proposed rule are due Aug. 28.

The SEC has 35 to 90 days to decide whether to approve the proposed rule or reject it.

More information about the proposed rule and the comment process is available here.