Clarence Elvin Feltner, Jr, former owner of Palm Beach television station WTVX died on May 31st in New York.Elvin Felther, as he was known, was an entrepreneur who dabbled in film production, acquired former WTVX in 1990 for $8 million after the station lost its CBS affiliation to WPEC, and got outbid by WPBF for the rights to carry ABC programming. He wanted to create a network of independent stations in several states that would spend much less on programming by using his movie distribution company to supply content.
In a Sun Sentinel story from September 28, 1990 Feltner also said he plans to produce newscasts for the stations. At that time WSVN was in the early stages of its transformation into “The News Station” after they too had lost their major network affiliation. Some might say Elvin Feltner Jr was on his way to becoming the Ed Ansin of Palm Beach County.But things did not work as planned.
Feltner’s plans went astray when in 1991 Columbia Pictures Television filed a lawsuit against his Krypton International Corporation for copyright infringement. It had become delinquent on royalty payments for Columbia’s T.J. Hooker, Silver Spoons, Hart to Hart and Who’s the Boss? so the entertainment giant revoked Krypton’s license to air the shows but his stations kept running them anyway.
After seven years in the courts, the lawsuit went all the way up to the Supreme Court on appeal. The District Court had decided in favor of Columbia awarding $8.8 million in damages but Feltner appealed on the grounds that the Seventh Amendment guarantees him the right to a jury trial “on all issues pertinent to an award of statutory damages under §§ 504(c) of the Copyright Act, including the amount itself.” The Supreme Court agreed.
But the jury trial backfired. The jury would award Columbia $72,000 for each of the 440 infringement occurrences, for a total award of $31.68 million – more than three and a half times the original verdict. The case would set a precedent, and become known for having the largest statutory damages verdict in history.
In 1993 Krypton Broadcasting declared bankruptcy and WTVX was acquired by Whitehead Media.
C. Elvin Feltner, Jr was 84 years old
[Sun Sentinel 9/28/1990: Ch. 34: Same Station, New Owner Buyer Plans For Wtvx To Join Chain Of National Independents]
[Palm Beach Post: Clarence Elvin Feltner, South Florida TV Entrepreneur, Dies at 83]