No bull: Fights disappearing from TVE

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MADRID -- Spain's state broadcaster, Television Espanola (TVE), looks set to eliminate live bullfighting from its afternoon lineup, 51 years after a bullfight inaugurated the pubcasters programming.

With the bullfighting season well under way, the pubcaster has failed to air the popular Spanish event live, citing regulations calling for child-friendly programming -- specifically the avoidance of "explicit violence" -- as well as bidding wars among the broadcasters that have pushed Spain's "national fiesta" out of reach for TVE.

"RTVE doesn't have anything against bullfights," the statement said. "To air a bullfight or not depends on the broadcast rights, which are not always available or within our reach. We also have to take into account special schedules for protecting children."

A TVE spokesperson declined comment on whether the pubcaster currently holds any rights to live bullfight broadcasts.

A report last year cited 31 complaints of infractions by Spanish broadcasters, though none involved bullfighting. A parliamentary committee that oversees TVE has demanded that it warn parents when bullfights are programmed.

The broadcaster said it will continue to give bullfighting highlights at night and air the annual running of the bulls in Pamplona, made famous by Ernest Hemingway in "The Sun Also Rises."

Last season, bullfights gave TVE a 16% audience share average, with certain torero superstars snagging up to 24% audience share.

Bullfighting aficionados charge the pubcaster is caving into animal-rights activists that want the sport banned completely, but the broadcaster denied it is taking a stand on the issue.

"There is no veto," the pubcaster said in a statement, in which it insisted in its "respect for those who are against these kinds of shows."

Live bullfights will continue to be seen on Spain's private networks, which have eagerly snatched up the audience-garnering rights.
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