Media owners are too old to cope with new technology, Virgin Radio chief executive Fru Hazlitt told the MediaGuardian Changing Media Summit yesterday.

And she said it is "bollocks" to assume they can better understand technology by observing their consumers; quoting Henry Ford, she said: "If I listened to my customers, I would have invented a very, very, very fast horse."

Most people's understanding of technology is hindered by fear of it, and many consumers do not really know what the 'killer application' on their mobiles is, for example.

Some major trends in media use, such as text messaging, had been driven by young consumers. Ms Hazlitt's Yahoo! experience taught her that if you want to 'get it', "Watch the kids".

Media owners are all simply too old, said Ms Hazlitt, and struggle with unfamiliar new technology.

"My parents had to learn to watch television, and I've had to learn the internet," she said.

"If you learn a language when you're three years old, you'll be fluent, and if you learn when you're 23 you'll have an accent. All of us will have an accent when using technology."

Although it is exciting that new technology has democratised creativity by allowing everyone a platform to create and share ideas and work, the advent of media such as podcasting has highlighted the importance of good content.

"The question for all of us is not what is going to happen to our brand because of podcasting and all these wonderful tools - it's not about that," said Ms Hazlitt.

"They might be able to podcast, but most people in the world are boring and they've got nothing to say.

"People like Jon Snow and other wonderful journalists have got everything to say."

Money spent by media owners during the internet boom was not wasted - it was just too early.

"Traditional media owners, probably with the exception of the Guardian, rushed into the whole internet bubble thing in 1999 and spent millions," she said.

"When the bubble burst they didn't see it wasn't the consumer bubble that had burst, it was the investment bubble."

"Right idea - wrong time."

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