Live bullfighting returns to prime-time viewing in Spain


The Spanish state broadcaster, TVE, yesterday gave a boost to bullfighting's chances of survival when it showed its first live broadcast of a fight in six years.

TVE stopped showing live bullfighting in October 2006 under the auspices of the then Socialist government, but the ban was only made formal in 2009 because it was considered, according to one TVE source, "too bloodthirsty for children". Since then, bullfighting has had an uphill battle to retain its once leading role in Spanish cultural life, with the country's dire economic situation exacerbating its difficulties.

The number of bullfights in Spain has, since 2007, dropped by a third, and by 50 per cent in its heartland of Andalusia. It has been banned outright in Catalunya and in San Sebastian, while polls in 2011 indicated that more than six out of 10 Spaniards disliked the spectacle, which has long been criticised by animal-rights activists.

And with tickets selling at up to €300 (£235) for Barcelona's last bullfight in October 2011, the appeal of watching a live fight from the ringside amongst cash-strapped Spaniards has shrunk. TVE's decision to broadcast the fight in the northern town of Valladolid last night comes after the conservative PP government undertook reforms of Spain's public broadcaster, amidst accusations that left-wing journalists have been sacked from the senior management. Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy is said to be a fan of bullfighting. The renewal of the live broadcasts is only for a short series of fights, reportedly a maximum of three or four a year. But even this limited programme has outraged activists. "I find it disgraceful that taxpayer's money should be used to pay for this," said Antonio Moreno, president of the animal-rights association CACMA. "But what's even worse is that TVE is showing how an animal is humiliated and tortured to death right in the middle of children's TV viewing time."