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Broadcaster won't screen bullfights

Spain's leading broadcaster said it will no longer show the country's centuries-old tradition of bullfighting in order to protect children from viewing violence.

Spain's state network, RTVE, lists its new ban on transmitting bullfighting programmes under a chapter called Violence With Animals in its latest stylebook and says it "will not broadcast bullfighting."

One of the reasons given by RTVE is that bullfights "generally coincide with hours protected or specially protected for young viewers."

"Children can view violence exerted over animals with anxiety and we must therefore avoid it by all means," the stylebook says.

Spain has seen a fierce debate over the blood-soaked pageant that has fascinated artists and writers such as Goya, Hemingway and Pablo Picasso.

In July, the influential north-eastern region of Catalonia became the second Spanish region to ban bullfighting, joining the Canary Islands, which outlawed the practice in 1991.

The broadcaster has not shown bullfighting in any of its programmes for months, citing low audience ratings and budget problems over expensive outdoor locations shooting.

Now RTVE has confirmed it is slicing all links with an activity that many Spaniards revere as an art form while others consider a cruel and archaic blood sport with no place in modern society.

Bulls have been a potent symbol in Spain since prehistoric times, when early human settlers painted images of them on ancient cave walls such as those at Altamira - more than 13,000 years old - in the north of the country.

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