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After a six-year absence, bullfights are returning to the state owned Spanish television station RTVE. For decades, the spectacles were a regularly aired tradition, but when the Socialist Party gained power in 2006, leaders decided the broadcasts were too expensive and the time should be reserved for children’s programming. The move was widely vilified among older citizens but didn’t cause much of an issue with young people who, studies show, are very ambivalent about the sport.
With the recent victories of Popular Party candidates, however, an increased push came to reevaluate the policies. According to Fox News, new Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy is a committed bullfighting advocate. He’s expected to introduce legislation that would classify the sport as a cornerstone of national heritage, and he was in favor of returning the events to RTVE provided it could be done cheaply.
In an effort to generate publicity for the sport and figure out a way to make it work on a budget, many of the high end matadors have agreed to forfeit their normal fees for all races that are televised on RTVE in the near future. This first such telecast is scheduled to air this evening, and if it draws a crowd, the network is expected to televise many more in the near future.
Like the previous decision to stop airing bullfights, the new policy alteration will no doubt draw a mixed reaction. Some see the sport as a link to Spain’s past while others see it as a barbaric display of animal cruelty. Considering it’s both, the debate won’t end anytime soon.