Bullfighting battles back with return of live TV broadcasts
BullfightiNg returned to live Spanish TV last night, six years after the fights were banned from the widely-watched public channel, with the broadcast featuring one of Spain’s most famous bullfighters.
Julian Lopez – nicknamed “El Juli” – and other matadors waived the payments demanded in better economic times for the right to broadcast their battles, a decision that helped Spain’s new austerity-minded conservative government in its drive to get the fights back on national TV and promote bullfighting as important cultural heritage.
The RTVE broadcast from the northern city of Valladolid was a major victory for the bullfighting lobby, which suffered a serious reverse earlier this year when bullfighting was banned altogether in Catalonia.
The transmissions were ended in 2006 by Spain’s previous Socialist administration, which said they were costly and coincided with key TV viewing hours for young children.
But the Socialists lost power last November as voters outraged over Spain’s nose-diving economy gave the conservative Popular Party a landslide victory. The party is led by prime minister Mariano Rajoy, a staunch defender of bullfighting.
Bullfighting aficionados hope the TV revival will spur renewed interest in the fights and reverse the trend of increasingly ageing audiences seen in bullfighting rings, with more and more empty seats. The tradition has also suffered deep cutbacks over the last several years as towns and cities tighten their belts.
“Hopefully now our media can once again generate enthusiasm among the people,” said Victoriano de Rio, breeder of the six bulls in the televised fights.
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