Former Financial Times Group chief Rona Fairhead is to become the first woman boss of the governing body of the BBC, which has been rocked by a string of paedophilia scandals, the government said on Sunday.
Fairhead, 53, will replace Chris Patten, who quit as chairman of the BBC Trust in May after major heart surgery.
His turbulent two-year stint was consumed by revelations that Jimmy Savile, once one of the BBC’s biggest stars, was among Britain’s most prolific sex offenders.
The incoming boss said she was “under no illusions about the significance and the enormity of the job”.
“The BBC is a great British institution packed with talented people, and I am honoured to have the opportunity to be the chairman of the BBC Trust,” she said.
The appointment was recommended by Culture Secretary Sajid Javid, who described the candidate as “exceptional”.
“Her experience of working with huge multinational corporations will undoubtedly be a real asset at the BBC Trust,” he said.
“I have no doubt she will provide the strong leadership the position demands and will prove to be a worthy champion of licence fee payers.
“I am sure that under Rona’s leadership the BBC will continue to play a central role in informing, educating and entertaining the nation.”
The BBC, the world’s largest public broadcaster, said it “welcomed the announcement of Rona Fairhead as the preferred candidate”, but stressed the appointment process still needed to be completed.
As part of this, she will quizzed by MPs at a select committee hearing on September 9.
Fairhead is also a non-executive director at PepsiCo and HSBC, and was chairwoman and chief executive of the Financial Times Group between 2006 and 2013.
She will be tasked with overseeing the broadcaster’s attempts to rebuild its reputation, which was also tarnished by a news report wrongly accusing a politician of paedophilia, and the resignation of the broadcaster’s director general after just 54 days.