28 August 2012

Death in the Afternoon - back on TV

Televisión Española (TVE), the state-funded Spanish TV network, is to start broadcasting live bullfights again in September, it was announced last week.

This practice was stopped in 2006, under the centre-left government of José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, because it was feared that children might be upset by seeing a matador killed or seriously injured in the ring (and because TVE were being priced out of the market for the major festivals by private broadcasters).  The edited highlights were broadcast late in the evening.

Last year TVE pulled bullfighting from its schedules altogether, saying it contravened its code of conduct for programmes before Spain's late evening watershed hour.  Bullfights mostly start at 6 pm, falling into children's viewing hours.   (Interestingly, there is no age limit on children attending the events in person.)  Furious fans accused the broadcaster of shunning a key part of Spanish popular culture. "This means that TVE, which belongs to us all, will deprive us of something that over the centuries has formed part of the cultural patrimony of many Spaniards," bellowed columnist Andrés Amorós in the newspaper ABC.

TVE is in the middle of a major shake-up that has seen its budget slashed by 37 percent this year. The current right-wing government have taken the opportunity to remove several prominent journalists who have openly criticised their policies, notably breakfast TV presenter Ana Pastor.  It has also removed the restriction on live bullfights from TVE's code of conduct.
Ana Pastor - sacked for speaking out

So TVE have decided to air live bullfights again, starting with a prestigious event in Valladolid on 5 September.  Breeders and promoters have agreed to waive their broadcasting fees, and top matadors Julián López – known as El Juli – José María Manzanares and Alejandro Talavante have waived their royalties.

The current President, Mariano Rajoy, is known to be a fan of los toros, but it is a deeply divisive issue across the country and has been banned in the Canaries, Cataluña and most recently, San Sebastian in the Basque country.  "Now the bullfighting lobby seems prepared to do anything in order to bring live fights back to our public television channel, even if that means trampling over European Union television rules," say PACMA, the animal rights party, which lobbies against bullfighting.

So we will once again be able to enjoy our afternoon tea or early-evening beer in the local bar accompanied by the roar of the crowd in our ears and TV close-ups of blood pouring from gigantic cloven-hoofed mammals goaded by men in skin-tight pink pants.

To be honest I always thought the ban on live broadcasts was a bit daft and rather un-Spanish, reminiscent of the British Elf & Safety culture much trumpeted by the Daily Wail.  Either ban it completely and be done with it, or let children see it as it is.  After all, Spanish kids are used to seeing blood on the telly: every road accident report is accompanied by close-ups of bloodstained tarmac, twisted metal and hastily-covered bodies.  Let them be the judges of whether this barbarous activity is part of their "cultural patrimony", to be protected at all costs.



Anonymous said...

....if one is not forced to watch then i have no problem with the 'sport'. Is it true that the meat is donated to charity?


Tumbit - Mr Grumpy said...

Personally I would much rather pay to see a group of retired ex-polititians mercilessly hounded around the arena for "Sport"

Anonymous said...

...why 'retired ex-politicians',lets put the live active ones in....and come to think of it, may as well include their bank managers...hehehe