RTVE declared that it will no longer broadcast bullfights. Photo: AP

One of Spain’s major broadcasters, RTVE, declared that it will no longer broadcast bullfights, stating that it does not want to expose children to violence against animals.  This is a step in the right direction, as experts say that violence against animals often leads to violence against humans.

However, RTVE also said they will continue to air the “artistic, literary, environmental and social dimensions of breeding and fighting bulls.”  Here at Global Animal, we believe that bullfighting is animal torture, which is never artistic.  While some may argue that bullfighting is a part of Spain’s tradition, a culture of cruelty is never okay.  We look forward to a day when the pointless bloodshed of bullfighting is banned for good, not just on TV.

– Global Animal

New York Times, By Raphael Minder

January 12, 2011, MADRID — Bullfighting, seen by many Spaniards as an essential part of their cultural patrimony, has suffered another blow, with the national television broadcaster saying that it cannot show bullfights because of the risk of exposing children to violence against animals.

In the latest update of its stylebook, the state broadcaster, RTVE, said Saturday that it would not broadcast bullfights, in particular because they “generally coincide with hours protected or specially protected for children.” Fights are normally held in the afternoon.

The move makes little difference because RTVE stopped broadcasting live bullfights in 2006, largely for commercial reasons and to focus on bidding for more popular events like soccer matches.

RTVE’s revised stylebook enshrines the ban on showing bullfights as an issue of violence against animals rather than as a commercial decision. It also comes amid a fierce political debate about bullfighting in Spain, after lawmakers in Catalonia voted in July to ban bullfights in their region starting in 2012. The Catalan decision has encouraged animal welfare groups to protest more forcefully in Spain and in southern France, where about 100 bullfights are held each year.

RTVE said in its stylebook update that it was “not indifferent to the relevance of the bullfighting world, nor to its influence on many socio-cultural aspects.” It said it would devote its efforts to offering programming that highlighted artistic, literary, environmental and social dimensions of breeding and fighting bulls.

Bullfighting remains the pièce de résistance of many of the annual town fiestas held across Spain and draws sellout crowds to the most important bullrings, like Las Ventas in Madrid, which has about 19,000 season ticket holders.

Animal welfare concerns, coupled with a political drive toward autonomy in a region like Catalonia, have dented bullfighting’s appeal and status as a national asset in recent years, undermining the financial health of the sector.

At the same time, RTVE has had to adjust to a more liberalized and competitive Spanish television market. Five years ago, when RTVE decided to stop broadcasting the major fights, bullfighting coverage had an audience share of about 15 percent. Along with rising broadcasting rights, RTVE also faced tougher competition from pay-television broadcasters, as well as from some regional stations.

Some commercial broadcasters, however, have dedicated significant resources to securing exclusive rights to cover star fighters and events, led by Canal Plus, a pay-TV operator that introduced an option in May to let people watch a bullfight in 3-D.