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Spain - no more matadors on TV here

(photo/Reuters)

Spain's state broadcaster, TVE, has announced it will no longer broadcast live bullfights. The broadcaster's new style guide states that "TVE will not show bullfights because of the time they take place, which mostly coincides with the time of day when there is special protection for children."

In other words, children should not be exposed to the violence they'd see in a bullfight.

The move has provoked outrage among politicians, fans, and commentators who argue bullfighting is part of Spain's national culture.

It's the second red flag for fans: this past summer the region of Catalonia banned bullfighting outright.

Commentators point out the statement represents a new policy that won't necessarily change anything in practise, since TVE has not broadcast bullfighting in any of its programs for months now. That's because of low audience ratings, and the high cost of filming the fights.

The head of the Union of Toreos, Inigo Fraile, argues the decision is political, and not a matter of principle: "There are those in education who deny that bullfighting on television even causes any distress to children...There are many more violent scenes, not just to animals but to people, shown in movies and television series broadcast on public channels."

In 2007, Dispatches broadcast a different perspective on young people and bullfighting, from our contributor Genevieve Oger.

She took us to Arles, Southern France, home to a noted school for matadors -- a bullfighting academy, with government funding -- where students as young as nine, learn to face the slashing horns.

Mind you, this is not play bullfighting. Animals get killed.

For some students, fighting the bull is also a fight against poverty.

Dispatches contributor Genevieve Oger watched the aspiring matadors strut their stuff for friends and family. 

Listen to Genevieve's dispatch now

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