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Bullfighting TV channel in Spain to close in another blow to controversial blood sport

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Spain’s biggest television channel dedicated to showing bullfights is to close in a move which animal rights activists claim shows the waning popularity of the blood sport.

Canal Toros (Bulls Channel), which is run by Movistar, will stop transmitting to subscribers from next month.

Movistar, which has broadcast bullfighting for 30 years, put the closure down to a “new market situation and the emergence of new players”.

Bullfighting critics said that after a fall in customers in recent years, the company wanted to withdraw from showing Spain’s biggest events in the sport, which are also viewed by aficionados in the UK, Latin America and the US.

Animal rights groups put the decision to close the channel down to a decline in support for the pastime. Aida Gascón, of AnimaNaturalis, tweeted: “If the torture of animals received popular support, you would not have to give grants to support it, nor would the media decide to close their almost extinct sections dedicated to bullfighting, as El Pais did recently, and Movistar has now done.”

In 2011, Spain’s state broadcaster Radio Television Española dealt a severe blow to bullfighting by banning it from the schedules to protect children from viewing violence.

Some Spaniards say they have no interest in the blood sport while others regard it as an integral part of the country’s culture.

In recent years, the number of fights has been waning because of the pandemic, due to Spaniards choosing other ways to spend their free time, and amid the rise of the animal rights movement in Spain.

The number of fights fell from 1,553 in 2017 to 824 in 2021, according to government figures. Only 8 per cent of the population attended bullfights between 2018-2019, compared to 45 per cent who said they went to the theatre, a survey of leisure habits found.

Some 46.7 per cent of Spaniards were in favour of prohibiting bullfighting, according to a 2020 survey for polling company Electomania, while 18.6 per cent backed the tradition and 34.7 per cent said they had no opinion on the matter.

However, supporters insist bullfighting is very much a part of Spanish culture and is in no danger of dying out.

In a statement, Movistar said: “After more than 30 years supporting bullfighting, the new market situation, and the emergence of new players, unfortunately make the continuity of the channel that has been exclusively dedicated to the sector unfeasible.

Source : Inews