bullfighter in spain
Spanish bullfighter Jose Tomas performs a pass to a bull during the last bullfight at Monumental bullring in central Barcelona. Reuters

Bullfighting has returned to Spanish public TV is all its bloody and glittery glory as part of the conservative government's effort to promote bullfighting as part of Spain's cultural heritage, according to the AP.

The Guardian reported that the return of the bulls after six years off the air came after the Popular Party, the right-wing party currently in power, shook up the senior management at the public television broadcast station. The broadcasts were originally stopped in 2006 when the Socialist government said they were too costly.

There has also been significant pressure from animal rights activists in Spain to get the sport banned; they succeeded in having the sport completely banned in Catalonia in the northeastern part of the country. Barcelona held its last bullfight in September 2011.

In the broadcast, celebrity matadors Julian "El Juli" Lopez and Alejandro Talavante performed and killed several bulls. The two also waived their usual fees (which can be upwards of $125,000 per appearance) to support the broadcast.

Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy is a big supporter of bullfighting, a practice that stretches back 4,000 years on the Iberian Peninsula.

Prior to the resumption of televised bullfights, animal rights activists in Spain condemned the government's plan to resume such broadcasts.

"It is clearly a backward step for the welfare of animals in this country," said Silvia Barquero, spokesman for the animal defense lobby group PACMA.

"We think it is completely inappropriate for Spanish public television to be broadcasting bullfights when they had already stopped."

Tom Burridge, a BBC correspondent in Madrid, commented on the spectacle of the bullfight.

"For those who never have watched a bullfight on TV, and might never want to, the coverage is in some ways similar to the way any TV channel would cover a football match," he wrote.

"In the crowd, there were people of different ages, including elegantly-dressed young women. However the vast majority of tonight's audience would vote for Spain's ruling centre-right, and crucially the pro-bullfighting Popular Party.... For those cheering in the stadium, waving their white scarves in approval after the first kill, it is a risk-ridden sport and the ultimate act of bravado. For others in Spain and abroad it is simply cruel."