Burns brings a wealth of experience from his six year tenure at the helm of the public broadcaster, as well as time spent as chairman of Marks & Spencer, Santander, Welsh Water, the National Lottery Commission and The Royal Academy of Music.
He replaces dame Patricia Hodge, who will stand down as chairman at the end of the year.
Sharon White, Ofcom chief executive, commented: “Lord Burns brings with him a wealth of experience and I am looking forward to working together as we deliver on Ofcom’s priorities.
“I am incredibly grateful to Dame Patricia Hodgson, who has provided expert stewardship to Ofcom as Chairman and Deputy Chairman over the past six years. Colleagues across Ofcom thank her for the contribution she’s made.”
Between 2004 and 2006 Burns served as an independent adviser to the secretary of state on the BBC charter review and sits as a cross-bench peer in the House of Lords.