Thomas Bellut, currently programme director of ZDF, will become the new general director of the German public broadcaster on 15 March 2012. ZDF's board elected the 56-year-old to succeed Markus Schächter.
Schächter announced in January that he would not take on another term.
"Thomas Bellut is one of the outstanding media managers of this country. He stands for the values of public broadcasting and independent journalism," Ruprecht Polenz, head of ZDF's board, said in Berlin.
The general director, who is elected for a 5-year term, is responsible for ZDF's whole business affairs including programme composition.