Peter Horrocks, who in his present role of current affairs chief is in charge of the BBC's flagship documentary strand, replaces Roger Mosey, who recently moved to become the BBC's director of sport.
In his current role, Mr Horrocks has also overseen the documentary strands Real Story and This World as well as producing documentaries including Brits, True Spies, Smallpox 2002, The Day Britain Stopped and The Power of Nightmares, Adam Curtis's acclaimed documentary about the politics of fear.
A BBC lifer, he joined the Corporation in 1981 as a news trainee and went on to work for Newsnight, where he later returned as editor.
Mr Horrocks has also edited Panorama as well as overseeing the BBC's coverage of the General Election in May 1997.
In 1997 and 2005 Mr Horrocks won Bafta awards for editing Newsnight and The Power of Nightmares.
BBC director of news Helen Boaden said: "Peter has a superb track record in television journalism. He also has a deep understanding of the television audience and the competitive pressures we face as technology offers our audiences more choice of news than ever before."
Jana Bennett, BBC director of television, said that Mr Horrocks has "led a period of great creativity and innovation in current affairs across all BBC channels".Reuse content