Bullfights stage free-to-air TV comeback

Bullfights stage free-to-air TV comeback
Spanish matador Juan Jose Padilla waves a pirate flag during a bullfight at the Malagueta Bullring in Malaga on August 21. Photo: Jorge Guerrero/AFP
After a long spell on the sidelines, bullfights are back on the menu again at Spain's national public broadcaster TVE, but not everyone is jumping for joy.

On September 1st, fans of Spain's most controversial pastime will be able to watch the bullfights in the western Spanish town of Merida from the comfort of their living rooms.

This is only the second such event on Spanish public television in six years, and the first since last year's Valladolid spectacle.

And like last year's bullfight, this one will be cheap for Spain's national broadcaster, Spain's El Mundo newspaper reported on Tuesday.

Click here to read the arguments for and against bullfighting.

This is because TVE has hammered out an agreement with bullfighters, breeders and the Merida arena which will see it only paying transmission costs.

The decision to show the event live is part of a new TVE policy to show the occasional bullfight — but only when the price is right.

Bullfights, or corridas, first disappeared from free-to-air television in Spain after the national broadcaster recognized these events were inappropriate viewing material during the children's viewing hours when they generally occurred.

In 2010, the events were then banned by TVE for animal cruelty reasons.

But in 2012, TVE changed its policy and decided it would show a small number of events a year.

"RTVE is not indifferent to the relevance of the bullfighting or its socio-cultural influence," the broadcaster said in 2011.

Last year's free-to-air event attracted some 1.2 million viewers, an audience share of 12.7 percent audience.

But not everyone is swinging their cape in reaction to the news that the bulls are back in town.

Spain's animal rights group PACMA on Tuesday issued a statement denouncing the decision by TVE to broadcast the Merida event.

In the statement, the group said bullfights were an act of gratuitous violence with a negative influence on children, and that the events had no place in Spanish society or on Spanish public television. 

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