RTÉ has appointed Dee Forbes as Director General following a recruitment process overseen by its board.
Ms Forbes is currently President and Managing Director of Discovery Networks Northern Europe, and will leave the role to become Director General of Ireland’s national public service media organisation.
The Cork native will assume her new role later this year after a transition period.
She joined Discovery in 2010 as Head of the UK/Ireland operation, before going on to lead the Northern Europe region, which includes Benelux (Belgium, Netherlands and Luxembourg) and the Nordic countries.
The Discovery Network has a mix of channels, both free-to-air and subscription.
Ms Forbes said: "Although it was a tough professional decision to leave Discovery, the personal decision to return to Ireland and lead its biggest broadcaster, RTÉ, is an opportunity of a lifetime."
Chair of the RTÉ Board Moya Doherty said: "The appointment of Dee Forbes stands to mark a significant moment in the development of RTÉ. Not only is this the first Director General in almost 50 years to be appointed externally, but she will also be the first female to hold the role.
"RTÉ is at a pivotal moment, one where the future shape and financing of public service broadcasting is being re-imagined".
Ms Doherty added: "I am delighted to have someone with such a breadth of industry experience, such a creative and visionary understanding of the global broadcasting market, and a proven management record".
Ms Forbes will take over from current RTÉ Director General Noel Curran.
The appointment is subject to the Government's consent under Section 89 of the Broadcasting Act 2009.
Before joining Discovery, Ms Forbes led Turner Broadcasting’s business in the UK and Ireland, which consisted of seven entertainment channels, including Cartoon Network, Boomerang and TCM.
She spent several years working at Turner in a variety of commercial roles including General Manager for the Nordic/Central and Eastern Europe and EMA regions and Head of Advertising Sales for Europe.