The appointment is one of a raft being made by newly appointed director general Tony Hall, who replaced George Entwistle. The latter stepped down following criticism of a Newsnight programme that wrongly accused Lord McAlpine of child abuse
Purnell worked at the corporation in the 90s as head of corporate planning and recently has been working as a producer at Rare Day.
His new role will involve developing BBC strategy and will include running the Marketing and Audiencse division, alongside the Communications, Digital, Policy and Public Affairs departments.
Former marketer Tim Davie, who took the role of acting director general after Entwistle resigned, is returning to his role of chief executive for BBC Worldwide but will take added responsibilities with the new role of director of global, responsible “for developing the BBC’s international brand and editorial strategy.”
He says: “I am very pleased to take on the important task of building the BBC brand globally and leading a growing, creative BBC Worldwide”.
The BBC celebrates its centenary in 2022 and has been lauded for its coverage of the London 2012 Olympics. However, public perception of the corporation has been dented by allegations of child abuse carried out by BBC employees, including Jimmy Savile, on its premises.