For the past 12 years Leila Gurruwiwi and her Marngrook Footy Show colleagues have presented a popular sports panel program that serves Australia’s Indigenous audience and beyond.
This week SBS axed the NITV show, but Leila says she, the show’s creator and host Grant Hansen, and the rest of the team behind it are “not going down without a fight” and “hope that common sense prevails”.
Since Wednesday’s confirmation that Marngrook Footy Show would no longer be airing on Indigenous produced TV station NITV, an online petition has fuelled momentum as it campaigns for the show to continue on another network, if not SBS or NITV.
“The petition is great and is a clear indication of how many people watch and support the Marngrook Footy Show,” Leila told HuffPost Australia.
As of 11pm AEST on Wednesday night, the Change.org petition had over 3,100 signatures “to save Marngrook Footy Show”, taking it well beyond the halfway mark to the 5,000 target.
“Knowing that there are so many willing to voice their opinion and actively protest through the petition is humbling as well,” said Leila. “I thank everyone for all their support.”
The Marngrook Footy Show has experienced programming changes since it first aired in 2007. In 2011 and 2012 it was screened on ABC2, before going back to NITV in 2013.
Leila acknowledged previous challenges the show has faced, and said once again, this “sad news” won’t deter hopes to bring it back next year.
“It is sad news but Marngrook has been in this situation before and we aren’t going down without a fight,” she said. “We hope to find a home soon so we can continue on into season 2020.
“There is a clear need in sports media and media in general for Marngrook so we hope that common sense prevails. Only time will tell!”
On Wednesday the show’s founder, Indigenous broadcaster and musician, Grant Hansen confirmed the axing in a Facebook post.
“Just to confirm the rumours! It’s true that NITV - SBS has decided after 10 successful years and there (sic) most popular show not to continue with the Marngrook Footy Show. We are hopeful of continuing on another network. We thank all our fans and supporters for your support to the program over 12 years,” read the statement.
SBS confirmed the news soon after.
“The media landscape has changed significantly over that time, and we have to make difficult decisions about how we spend our limited budgets across our programming,” NITV channel manager Tanya Orman said in a statement.
“While it was a difficult decision to make after such a long run, NITV remains committed to delivering quality AFL coverage from a uniquely Indigenous perspective.
“We are looking at formats for a new show that will join our existing sports coverage including the Northern Territory Football League, the Koori Knockout, Over the Black Dot and the National Basketball League.”
Fans took to Twitter to voice their opinion.