George Entwistle has been appointed director-general of the BBC, widely seen as the most powerful job in UK broadcasting.
He will take on a much-reduced salary of £450,000 in the autumn, a £200,000-plus reduction on that paid to outgoing director-general Mark Thompson.
Entwistle, 49, has previously been a current affairs programme-maker and for the past year has been in charge of the corporation's TV output as head of BBC Vision.
Announcing the appointment, BBC Trust chairman Lord Patten said both he and Entwistle thought there was room for improvement at the corporation. He said they agreed the BBC could be "10% or 20% better" despite the financial situation.
Among those thought to have made it through to the final stages were Ed Richards, the chief executive of Ofcom who was seen as the frontrunner, and the BBC's chief operating officer, Caroline Thomson.
Entwistle said: "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."
His 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.
Mr Thompson indicated in March that he was stepping down after eight years, following the Olympics. Headhunting firm Egon Zehnder led the process to find his successor for a fee of £157,000.
Thompson - whose salary this year was £671,000 - said of his successor: "I think this is a brilliant appointment. George has shown himself to be an outstanding leader with an intuitive understanding of public sector broadcasting."
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 as he and his team work to ensure the BBC remains the greatest broadcaster in the world."