Live bullfights return to Spanish TV after six-year ban

 
Spanish matador Leandro Marcos Vicente performs a pass during a bullfight at the Malagueta Bullring in Malaga, on 13 August, 2012 New conservative PM Mariano Rajoy is a fan of the corrida, as bullfighting is known

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Spain's public TV has broadcast a live bullfight for the first time in six years after conservative PM Mariano Rajoy lifted a ban on the tradition.

The fight in the northern city of Valladolid screened on Television Espanola (TVE) on Wednesday evening.

The previous socialist government cut live transmissions as they were costly and aired in children's viewing time.

Anti-bullfighting sentiment has been on the rise, with Catalonia outlawing the practice in January.

Lawmakers in the autonomous region voted for the ban last year - the first in mainland Spain - after 180,000 people signed a petition.

Art form or torture?

But the corrida, as it is known, is still permitted in all other regions of Spain except in the Canary Islands, which banned it in 1991.

Pro-bullfighting supporters, who include Mr Rajoy, say the tradition is an art form deep rooted in Spanish history.

It dates back at least 4,000 years and is thought to have been popularised by the Romans.

Analysis

For those who never have watched a bullfight on TV, and might never want to, the coverage is in some ways similar to the way any TV channel would cover a football match.

In the crowd, there were people of different ages, including elegantly-dressed young women. However the vast majority of tonight's audience would vote for Spain's ruling centre-right, and crucially the pro-bullfighting Popular Party.

The party's election last December, and the subsequent, more recent change of management at Spain's public broadcaster paved the way for the return of bullfighting to TVE.

For those cheering in the stadium, waving their white scarves in approval after the first kill, it is a risk-ridden sport and the ultimate act of bravado.

For others in Spain and abroad it is simply cruel.

TVE's decision to air a short series of fights in the coming months, at the traditional time of 6pm, is seen as a big victory for fans of the bloodsport.

"The potential audience that might be attracted to this line-up is, in itself, a sufficient reason for broadcasting it," a spokesman for the station said.

Many in Mr Rajoy's centre-right People's Party will be pleased about the news, says the BBC's Tom Burridge in Madrid.

The party supports bullfighting and has opposed previous calls to ban the sport.

When the party swept to power in December, it approved a new management team for Spain's national broadcaster, our correspondent said.

This in turn has paved the way for bullfighting to make a comeback to public TV.

However opponents argue the practice is barbaric, with the odds heavily stacked against the animals, which suffer unnecessary torment.

Campaigners hope to extend the ban across the country, but they face a tough task in traditional bullfighting heartlands like Andalucia and Madrid.

 

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  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 106.

    Keeping alive this anachronistic practice only serves to perpetuate the unfortunate perception of the Spanish as being the peasants of Western Europe.

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 105.

    Bullfighting is simply deliberate cruelty to an animal... another sentient being. A vile bestial sport that says much about those who take part, promote ore derive pleasure from it. If we were to treat our domestic pets in that fashion we would rightly be locked up - not necessarily in a prison.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 104.

    I don't think if it will be simple for any government to force its people to revert their culture just because somebody is favor new life style. There are many local people who still love their cultures, and they still remain human as those who like new life style. Therefore, this is a good part of public entertainment and I love it too even though I am not from Spain.

  • rate this
    -2

    Comment number 103.

    I worked in Spain prior to the ban and came across the 'match of the day' of bullfighting. Talking about it is one thing seeing it is a truly horrific and viscerally disturbing experience. How come European demands we have straight Bananas sold in KG and yet we can't make banning bullfighting a condition of European membership?

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 102.

    I've never been to a bullfight but I went to a cock fight in Mexico and enjoyed it tremendously. It was my choice and it could have been a mistake, I could have found it unpleasant. It was my freedom of choice and no-one has the right to take that away from me because of their own prejudices.

  • rate this
    -2

    Comment number 101.

    disgusting. tradition is no excuse for barbarism.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 100.

    There's less bloodshed in a bullfight than in a stadium full of British football hooligans!

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 99.

    I am not sure how I feel about banning a sport that has a long historical and cultural connection. There is something about it that feels overreaching.

    That being said, it's a business and entertainment. Maybe the best way to end the practice is through information and education. If people don't have interest in watching or paying to attend, it will die off on it's own.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 98.

    @96
    Well good for you librarian. You just stay right where you are. I am quite sure we will be just fine without you. . . .

  • Comment number 97.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 96.

    Would only be fair if the bull was armed with a rifle.I don't buy Spanish goods and I wouldn't go there on holiday, Very strange customs there, not anything I would like to participate in so I keep well clear.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 95.

    Sorry, I'm temporarily back and slightly baffled.

    Charles re: 'poetic' justice if the bullfighter is killed. Obviously
    you haven't read Lorca's masterpiece, 'Llanto por Ignacio Sanchez Mejias', a lament for a torero of great stature who was one of Lorca's gay lovers and the poem is a great poetic treasure of Spanish literature. But why should you? Perhaps take the trouble to research.

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 94.

    Barbaric, regardless of cultural heritage. Spain should hide their head in shame! I'm guessing there are a few in UK that would like to see fox hunting etc....I'd hope that UK will not be as senseless

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 93.

    Well, the bullfight is unique for Spain. What boders me is the fact that one party supports it and the other is against...This polarization seems to very much typical for any established democracy - from abortion problem in US, through the gun registry in Canada to the austerity approach in Greece...Spain is one of the first countries with legal gay marriages and archaic bullfight shows! Strange.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 92.

    Don't follow bullfighting & see its gradual dislike as a good natural sign we’re becoming more sensitive. However it's worth mentioning something often overlooked: there'd be no pedigree bulls in Europe without bullfighting. Remember they're costly and dangerous animals to breed. The extinction of bullfighting = the extinction of bulls. I'm OK with that. I wonder what others make of that.

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 91.

    My sympathies have always lain with the bull; if he gores a few of these tormentors then as far as I'm concerned it is poetic justice. This 'sport' should be confined to history, like throwinganimals from church steeples.

  • rate this
    -3

    Comment number 90.

    When we stop all the starving children in the world and protect all the animals we are in danger of forcing extinct i might give some concern to a species of animal that we have domesticated and abused since before we considered ourselves civilised, unfortunately we consider ourselves civilised and see no problems that should not be in our civilised society so lets get all upset about the bulls

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 89.

    The EU could block funding if they don't stop. The feds told LA to increase drinking age to 21 or lose highway funding, guess what, drinking age is now 21.

    PS should England go back to the middle ages and have bear bating, cockfighting etc? I think we grew out of being barbaric but seems some EU countries have yet to

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 88.

    @87
    Jordi, with your name spelled this way i presume that you are Spanish?
    In which case when was the last time that you went to a bullfight?
    Because it is quite clear to me that you know nothing about it at all!!
    "Drugged and horns sawn". Please, stop listening to utter rubbish, and research a little more before posting these comments.

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 87.

    Is it possible any comparison between the suffering of an animal in the obituaries and the bull in the ring? I mean, drugged and horns sawn in the first place then, teased, spiked, slashed, more teasing. If the bull is lucky, it will be a quick death with only one thrust with the sword. Perhaps they cut ears and tail as a trophy.
    I wonder how many of these people would like to be gored this way.

 

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