He begins at Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) on February 27, when acting chairman of ACMA, Lyn Maddock, will resume her deputy chairman spot.
Currently chief operating officer (specialist funds management activities) for investment firm Babcock & Brown, Chapman has held the chief executive post at several companies, including investment firm Prime Infrastructure Management, Optus joint venture Excite@Home and Stadium Australia Management.
He has sat on the board of Film Australia, the National Film and Sound Archive, and worked for the Seven Network from 1984 until 1996 in various management roles, including chief operating officer and acting chief executive.
Announcing the appointment in a statement, communications minister Senator Helen Coonan described the selection process as "careful and exhaustive".
Chapman said the chance to take up the position at ACMA was a "unique opportunity at a particularly interesting time for an already dynamic communications sector".
"ACMA has been designed to be, and has itself adopted the challenge of being, an innovative regulator so as to successfully meet ever-changing industry and community needs," he said in the statement.
Chapman is also a former solicitor with law firm Mallesons Stephen Jaques and has worked as an associate to former High Court chief justice Sir Garfield Barwick.
His appointment comes at a sensitive time as the federal government is trying to navigate the sale of the remainder of Telstra amid ongoing concerns over bush services and competition.