Lord Burns, a former senior civil servant at the Treasury, is set to be unveiled as the new chairman of Channel Four, and his first job will be to find a replacement for the outgoing chief executive, Andy Duncan.
It is understood that the media watchdog, Ofcom, which has been running the process to find a successor to Luke Johnson, whose tenure expires at the end of the year, will announce Lord Burns' appointment in the next few days. Ofcom and C4 declined to comment. Lord Burns did not return calls.
Frontrunners for the job included Greg Dyke, former director general of the BBC, and Richard Eyre, who was chairman of GCap Media. Ofcom had been keen to appoint a woman, sources close to the process said, but were unable to land a suitable candidate.
Mr Dyke, who has been appointed chairman of the Ambassador Theatre Group, said yesterday that he had not been on the shortlist for the C4 post, but talked in glowing terms about the incoming chairman. "It is a real coup for Channel Four. Terry Burns is a real star, he will be a great chairman," he said.
Lord Burns was permanent secretary to the Treasury between 1991 and 1998, where he earned the nickname of "Teflon Terry". He is chairman of Abbey, and also chaired a string of independent reviews, on issues from the National Lottery and fox-hunting to football. He was appointed as an independent adviser on the BBC Charter Review in 2003 by the then Media Secretary, Tessa Jowell, and was linked with the role of chairman of the BBC after Michael Grade left for ITV in 2006.