RTE newsreader Sharon Ni Bheolain is hotly tipped as the new face of UTV in Ireland.
The newsreader told fans of her plans to get out of RTE before Christmas. Sources last night said she is preparing to be unveiled as UTV's biggest star south of the border.
Meanwhile, the Sunday Independent can also exclusively reveal that Jennifer Maguire and Bernard O'Shea are firm favourites for the 2FM breakfast slot and have all but signed along the dotted line.
Maguire is a rapidly rising star in RTE, developing a loyal following due to her quirky presenting style and razor-sharp wit.
Bernard O'Shea is also rumoured to have landed The Panel show on RTE ahead of Eoghan McDermott, who presented the pilot.
When contacted by the Sunday Independent yesterday, Ms Maguire said: "To be honest I couldn't tell you what's going on in 2fm because I don't know."
As part of its proposed schedule, UTV said it is planning to broadcast a 60-minute nightly news and current affairs show.
It is not known whether Ms Ni Bheolain's role will be part of that aspect of the station's schedule. If so, it could see her going head to head with Miriam O'Callaghan on RTE's Prime Time in a current affairs style role.
Ms Ni Bheolain said shortly before Christmas: "It's been a very enjoyable experience, but I'm ready for something new."
However, she was coy at the time about future career plans.
"I'm not terribly ambitious; I think that's probably my problem," she said.
A source told the Sunday Independent: "Sharon is contractually obliged not to appear on any other news programmes for a given period, possibly six months, before she can then appear on UTV News Ireland.
"In terms of who will replace her in RTE, I don't think you will be seeing Grainne Seoige on the Six One any time soon. She has moved into other areas of television now and she might have fulfilled her ambitions in a news anchor role."
Sharon's first appearance onscreen, presenting Nuacht in 1994, was credited with helping to make the Irish language sexy. She was even name-checked in a beer commercial, giving her virtually iconic status in Ireland.
But the mother of one still doesn't court publicity, preferring instead to stay away from newspaper headlines and red carpet events.
She previously said: "I don't do all that self-publicity stuff. Why would I? I'm not totally comfortable talking about myself for starters. I read the news, I don't have to raise my profile or anything like that."