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Has RTE solved the George Lee problem?

RTE may have found the answer to their George Lee problem.

The ex-politician is being hotly tipped to take over the Saturday business slot just vacated by rising star John Murray.

The Herald can confirm that Murray's The Business programme on RTE Radio One will definitely return in September, albeit with a new presenter.

And insiders say that Lee is already hot favourite to land the hugely popular show if he wants it.

Station bosses have been looking for a suitable project for Lee since his return from a short-lived political career with Fine Gael.

They have already created a position for Lee to develop a "new cross-media initiative" in the consumer and financial advice area.

But sources say that the former economics editor is keen to find a way of breaking back in to broadcasting.

He is due to begin an eight-week summer slot this weekend and sources say he is "firm favourite" to become a Saturday regular.

A spokesperson for RTE told the Herald that station bosses will not start considering who will replace Murray until next week, but confirmed that The Business will definitely be back in the autumn.

"Obviously there are confidentiality issues that go with all these decisions," explained the spokesperson. "They are approached on a one by one, singular basis.

"The deliberations around The Business couldn't start until the announcement about the 9am slot was made."

Asked about which presenters might be considered for the plum role, he replied: "Nobody knows these things except the MD and the Head of Radio. In terms of the The Business, George Lee is starting a new eight-week business show at 10am on Saturday. The Business will return after that."

He added: "It is a hugely successful show with 315,000 listeners on Saturday mornings. It's in the top 20 most listened to programmes in the country."

It is not clear whether Lee would be interested in taking up the role and a source warned that there will be a number of people vying for the job.

"In terms of names in the pot, you could put any number of people down. There were so many names mentioned for the 9am slot.

"People were saying Joe Duffy and then it was that Pat Kenny would start earlier but it was neither. In the same way, you could attach any number of names to that slot."

Lee quit RTE in May 2009 and decided to run for Fine Gael in the Dublin South by-election, which he won with a landslide vote.

However, after less than a year in Leinster House he became frustrated with both the party and the political system.

He had been granted unpaid leave from RTE and returned to the station in May this year.

kdoyle@herald.ie


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