Former Birmingham City Council chief executive Sir Michael Lyons has been appointed the new chairman of the BBC, the Department for Culture, Media and Sport has announced.
The former market trader, 57, who recently delivered a report to the Government on the council tax system, succeeds Michael Grade in the #140,000 position.
Sir Michael Lyons is said to be close to Chancellor Gordon Brown, which has prompted allegations of cronyism from the Conservatives.
Culture Secretary Tessa Jowell said: "Sir Michael Lyons is experienced and talented. He has a distinguished track record in local government and a wide range of other sectors.
"He will be an excellent chair of the new BBC Trust. Along with the eleven trust members, he will represent the interests of the licence fee payers, ensuring they receive quality programming and value for money.
"Sir Michael joins a talented team of people, including Chitra Bharucha, whom I would like to thank for her work as acting chair during this period."
A string of big names were linked to the job when Mr Grade quit for rival ITV.
But many of them, such as broadcaster David Dimbleby and former film producer Lord Puttnam, ruled themselves out of the race, prompting speculation that the job had become unpopular.
Sir Michael, a professor of public policy at Birmingham University, recently completed a three-year review into changes in the council tax system.
But his proposals - recommending an upper band of council tax for homes worth more than #2 million and a low band for the cheapest homes - was shelved by Gordon Brown.
Conservative culture spokesman Hugo Swire said his closeness with Brown would "add to the concerns about how this Government has politicised the appointments process".
Sir Michael Lyons is a one-time market trader with a background in local politics - and little experience in broadcasting.
He is a former chief executive of three regional councils - Wolverhampton, Nottingham and Birmingham - and was knighted for his services to local government in 2000.
He is said to be close to chancellor Gordon Brown and his appointment immediately sparked accusations of cronyism.
Sir Michael, 57, recently completed the Lyons Inquiry which recommended the introduction of new council tax bands which would increase bills for expensive homes. The father-of-three was educated at Stratford Grammar School in east London and studied at Middlesex University and Queen Mary College in London.
While a student he worked part-time for two years on a stall at Bell Street Market, off London’s Edgware Road. His early career was as an economist in the public sector, followed by jobs as an economics lecturer at the University of Nottingham and Wallbrook College, London.
He moved into local government as an elected Labour member of Birmingham City Council from 1980-1983. In 1985 he was made chief executive of Wolverhampton Borough Council, a post he held for five years.
Posts as chief executive of Nottinghamshire County Council (1990-1994) and Birmingham City Council (1994-2001) followed.
Sir Michael was Professor of Public Policy at Birmingham University from 2001-2006.
He is a former deputy chairman and acting chairman of the Audit Commission (2003-2006) and has chaired several public sector bodies and working groups.
The Lyons Inquiry into local government funding took three years and Sir Michael delivered his findings last month.
His brief background in broadcasting includes a role as a former non-executive director of Central Television (2003-2006).
Until recently he was chairman of the Regional Advisory Council for ITV.
Sir Michael is also chairman of the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra and a governor of the Royal Shakespeare Company.
He lives in Sutton Coldfield, West Midlands, with his wife. He has three grown-up children and lists his interests in Who’s Who as "music, theatre, cinema and walking".