Carter, 38, will take up his post on March 1. As chief executive of Ofcom he will be responsible, with the board, for creating the new organisation, which will take the place of five regulators -- the Broadcasting Standards Commission; the Independent Television Commission; Oftel; the Radiocommunications Agency and the Radio Authority.
Carter has been in the race for the top job at Ofcom since an early stage. The only other person still thought to be in the race in the week before the decision was made was the ITC chief executive Patricia Hodgson.
According to Carter: "An effective Ofcom is critical for all media and communications businesses. For me, the opportunity was an irresistible one. I am delighted to join the board in helping to bring Ofcom to life."
Carter left NTL at the end of last year when the cable operator filed for chapter 11 bankruptcy protection after running up debts of nearly £13m. However, Carter, who spent two years at the cable firm, was not blamed for the company's financial problems. He joined NTL from WPP-owned advertising agency JWT, where he was chief executive.
Since then, Carter has been linked to virtually all the high-profile media jobs, including chief executive of Trinity Mirror, Five and Emap.
Carter will work alongside chairman Lord Currie and one of his first tasks will be to draw on the skills of the current teams in creating the new organisation. He will also, along with the board, formulate strategy and policy for Ofcom and be responsible for its day-to-day operations.
Lord Currie, chairman of Ofcom, said: "I am very pleased that Stephen is to join us. He has exactly the right qualities to deliver these requirements, as well as considerable experience of working in the advertising, broadcasting and telecommunications sectors. Stephen and the board will now begin the recruitment of a first-rate executive management team to support him."
Carter, who was born in Scotland and graduated with a law degree from the University of Aberdeen, started as a trainee at JWT. He was made managing director in 1995 and chief executive two years later.
Tessa Jowell MP, secretary of state for culture, media and sport, commented: "I am delighted that the Ofcom board has been able to select a candidate with relevant commercial and management experience. I am sure Stephen Carter will be an asset to Ofcom."
The appointment of Carter was also welcomed by the opposition. The shadow secretary of state for culture, media and sport, John Whittingdale MP, said: "I welcome the fact that the new chief executive of Ofcom comes from outside the existing regulators, and brings with him experience of the commercial sector. Ofcom will be a very powerful body and it is essential that those in charge have a proper understanding of how the business world works."
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