Trying to find some shelter for the rain and having a nice lunch at the same time we ended up in one of our favorite places and one of the best restaurants in Ronda, Casa Ortega. Not a coincidence that we met our guests Alice and Gert there as well. Sitting under the TV set it was hard to ignore that a bull fight was broadcasted. Most of us ‘guiris’ (expats) have mixed feelings – to say the least about bull fights but over lunch…. But then again we know that when you go out to have a bite in Spain the TV set is never far away.
Televisión Española (TVE), the state-funded Spanish TV network, has started broadcasting live bullfights again since September. This practice was stopped in 2006, under the centre-left government of 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. 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,” according to 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 and also removed the restriction on live bullfights from TVE’s code of conduct.
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 PM, 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.
So where does that leave us? Back to tapas and no more bloody steaks when going out for lunch I guess. At least it had stopped raining.