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Polish court rejects appeal against PKN Orlen's Polska Press takeover

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WARSAW (Reuters) - A Polish court on Tuesday rejected an appeal from the country's Human Rights Ombudsman against oil company PKN Orlen's takeover of newspaper publisher Polska Press, the court said, confirming an earlier report by state-run news agency PAP.

PKN's purchase of Polska Press from a German media group has been criticised by opposition parties in Poland for being part of a drive by the nationalist Law and Justice (PiS) government to increase control over the media and curb free speech.

PiS has said that foreign media companies have too much influence in Poland and distort public debate.

Poland's anti-monopoly office, UOKiK, approved the takeover of Polska Press in February 2021, but the Human Rights Ombudsman, in an appeal against the decision, said the regulator had failed to assess the influence of the deal on media freedom.

"In the opinion of PKN Orlen, the court judgment clearly confirms that the purchase of Polska Press was carried out in accordance with the law," PKN said in a statement.

PKN said the court ruling showed that it was up to consumers to decide whether to choose Polska Press's publications.

The Ombudsman's office said a decision on a possible appeal against the court's verdict will be made after analysis of the written justification of the judgment.

(Reporting by Anna Koper, Alan Charlish, Pawel Florkiewicz; Editing by Jane Merriman)

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