Spanish TV join the anti-bullfighting

State television considers bullfighting “violence against animals”

Spanish state television vetoed bullfighting at the beginning of the year. At first, RTVE (Radio Televisión Española) justified its refusal to broadcast these kind of festivities because of its low ratings. Then, RTVE put forward the excuse of budget problems associated with the high price of the royalties. Finally, it argued that bullfighting spectacles are shown during times when minors may be watching television.

With the elimination of the corridas in schedule listing, public television turns its back on bullfighting, much like the Catalan Parliament did last summer, when it ban bullfighting in the regional territory.

The RTVE Style Book files bullfighting under ‘violence against animals’, and specifies that the public channel will not “broadcast bullfighting because its schedule use to coincide with protected programming scheduled for children”. The children’s schedule begins at 6 a.m. and last until 22 p.m.

In the document, the state corporation explains that children could be distressed by the violence exerted against animals, so they must be prevented from watching it.

However, RTVE assures that it is aware of the importance of the art of bullfighting and its other socio-cultural aspects, and will undertake a project to reflect its topicality through the programming. To achieve this objective RTVE will coverage the “artistic, literary, environmental and social aspects related to bullfighting”.

The conservative Popular Party (PP) argues that there is a political reason behind this decision. Last month, the PP presented a proposal in the Parliament that would promote bullfighting. It was rejected by a difference of only one vote. In the Senate, the PP has tried unsuccessfully to declare corridas a ‘Bien de Interés Cultural’ (Heritage of Cultural Value). The clearest evidence of the partisan political opinions associated with this issue is the paradox that seven autonomous regions of Spain invest part of their public budget in TV and radio programs of bullfighting and similar festivities.

Political thrusts

The Catalan Parliament dealt the death blow to bullfighting in the region last July, outlawing the centuries-old spectacle. The measure signified a victory for the anti-bullfighting movement. It was the result of a popular initiative, launched by an association called ‘Prou!’, and finally approved in the parliament with 68 votes in favour, 55 against and 9 abstaining.

Public and deputies congratulate each other after the anti-bullfighting law passing

Celebration in the Catalonian Parliament after the passing

Bullfight festivities have been banned in the Canary Islands since 1991, and the Basque Country Parliament had recently accepted a proposal made by Ezker Batua party to ban bullfights in that region, too.

Activists against devotees of the centuries-old national symbol support the anti-bullfighting movement. They argue bullfights involve gratuitous animal suffering that has no place in a modern society. “We understand it’s a tradition but now it’s time to rethink such a bloody act of cruelty”, stated Silvia Barquero, spokesperson for PACMA, the small anti-bullfighting party. “There are some traditions that can’t remain frozen in time as society changes”, said Josep Rull, Member of Parliament for CIU, a Catalonian nationalist party.


In the arena, the bullfighter and his team stick lances and darts in the bull and eventually kill him with a sword in a highly ritualised performance.

Supporters of this spectacle say that the bullfighter’s face-off with the enraged bull celebrates an emotional reality at the heart of the Spanish character, celebrated in art by the likes of painter Pablo Picasso, poet Federico García Lorca or artists like filmmaker Orson Wells and Nobel laureate Ernest Hemingway. But anti-bullfighting activists pointed out that it has disturbed many other artists, from Mark Twain to Hans Christian Andersen.

A tradition of small significance in Catalonia

A 2006 survey showed that 71% of Catalans were opposed to bullfighting, and attendance at the northern region’s few remaining bullrings has fallen precipitously in the past decade. Prior to the ban, Catalonia repeatedly attempted to limit bullfighting, passing a 2003 animal-rights law, for example, that prohibited children under 14 from to attend bullfights. Another proof of Catalans waning interest compared with their compatriots’ is that 106 bulls faced the matador‘s sword in Catalonia last year, compared to more than 1,000 in Andalucía and almost 800 in Madrid.

Many commentators and politicians denied that the anti-bullfight movement has to do with separatist movements in Catalonia. According to Catalans, the two issues are not related. “This is not a debate about identity but about values. There is an obsession with turning everything that happens in Catalonia into a political debate. When the Canary Islands banned bullfighting, no one really cared. It was a people’s movement, not a political one”, said Josep Rull, a CiU deputy who supports the ban.

The President of Generalitat (Catalonian government), José Montilla, called for the bullfighting ban not to be turned into a new conflict between Catalonia and the rest of Spain. “I expect a sense of responsibility and tact from everyone”, he stated.

Losses estimated in more than 300 million euros

The group in defence of the corridas announced the probable lose of 300 million euros for the sector. Those in favour of bullfighting say that it creates thousands of jobs and is central to the tourist industry. The Barcelona-based Platform for the Defence of the Fiesta, conducted a study that found that the ban would cost the region €300 million in indemnities. “Given that we’re in a terrible recession, why should the government be paying out that money?” Luis Corrales, founder of the association, asked reporters prior to the vote.

But beyond Catalonia, the big question is what impact the ban will have on the rest of Spain. “Clearly this could have a negative impact on bullfighting throughout the country, by inspiring other similar initiatives”, venture Corrales.

Animal rights activists have yet pledged to spread the ban from the autonomy-minded region throughout the rest of Spain. Prou! association has said that it will take its campaign to end bullfighting to other regions and take the ban request to Constitutional Court. On the other hand, the Popular Party will try to modify the law to avoid the ban.


~ by promisegreen on 02/06/2011.

2 Responses to “Spanish TV join the anti-bullfighting”

  1. Thank you for fighting for these animals… animals are a great source of entertainment… as companions. I hope that next, Factory Farming will be banned too but when it comes to people filling their bellies they seem to be more willing to turn a blind eye to suffering. These animals feel, even the lowest creature feels pain. This world was not created for us, man and beast alike, so we could destroy what was created for “fun”, “art” or “sport”, but rather need. We are supposed to be grateful and respectful to the animal laying it’s life down so we may live instead of contemptuous, ungrateful, barbaric, inhumane people… the only thing honored by this is the Devil and his ilk.

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