Hall will be responsible for rebuilding trust in the BBC following the Jimmy Savile child abuse scandal and the broadcast of a Newsnight report that incorrectly alleged former Conservative party chairman Lord McAlpine was a child abuser.
He takes over from former P&G marketer Tim Davie, who stepped into the role on an interim basis following the resignation of George Entwistle earlier this month. Entwistle was in the director general position for just seven weeks.
Hall became chief executive of the Royal Opera House in 2001 and has been responsible for widening its reach to new audiences. He was also chairman of the board for the Cultural Olympiad this year.
His previous career at the BBC spanned more than two decades after joining as a trainee in 1973. Hall has been credited with launching BBC Radio 5 Live, BBC News Online, BBC News 24 and BBC Parliament.
BBC Trust chairman Lord Patten says: “While there are still very serious questions to be answered by the on-going inquiries, it is in the interests of licence fee payers that the BBC now starts to refocus on its main purpose – making great programmes that audiences love and trust.
“In doing this it will need to take a long, hard look at the way it operates and put in place the changes required to ensure it lives up to the standards that the public expects. Tony Hall is the right person to lead this and I am delighted that he is taking on this role. For its part I want to make sure that the Trust gives Tony Hall whatever help and support he needs to re-build the BBC’s management around him.
“Tony Hall has been an insider and is a currently an outsider. As an ex-BBC man he understands how the corporation’s culture and behaviour make it, at its best, the greatest broadcaster in the world. And from his vantage point outside the BBC, he understands the sometimes justified criticisms of the corporation – that it can be inward looking and on occasions too institutional.
“But perhaps most importantly, given where we now find ourselves, his background in news will prove invaluable as the BBC looks to rebuild both its reputation in this area and the trust of audiences.”
Hall will take up the role in March on a salary of £450,000 a year.