George Entwistle has been appointed director general of the BBC, taking over from Mark Thompson.
Mr Entwistle, who has been the director of BBC Vision since last year, will take up his new role - and £450,000 salary - in the autumn.
Speculation had been mounting that a decision would be reached swiftly after a final round of interviews were conducted by Lord Patten, the chairman of the BBC Trust.
Lord Patten said: "George is a creative leader for a creative organisation.
"His experience of making and delivering great programmes that audiences love - built up through many years of working for the corporation - will prove invaluable."
He said Mr Entwistle and his team would "work to ensure the BBC remains the greatest broadcaster in the world".
Among those who are believed to have been interviewed for the role were Ed Richards, the chief executive of Ofcom, who was seen as a frontrunner, and BBC chief operating officer Caroline Thomson.
Mr Thompson indicated in March that he was stepping down following the Olympics. Headhunting firm Egon Zehnder led the process to find his successor.
Mr Entwistle's chances were at one stage thought to have diminished in the wake of the much-criticised BBC coverage of the Diamond Jubilee pageant, which came under his responsibility.
He declared on hearing the news of his success: "I'm delighted that the chairman and trustees have decided I'm the right person for the job, and I'm very excited about all that lies ahead.
"I love the BBC and it's a privilege to be asked to lead it into the next stage of its creative life."