Don Cox, the Miami deejay who spoke out in a network television news report about payola in the record industry, told his station on Tuesday that he had been assaulted and beaten by a group of people after he left work last Thursday.

Officials at the station, WINZ, said yesterday that Cox has been absent from work since the incident.

Meanwhile, as investigations into the purported use of drugs as promotional payola by independent record promoters in the recording industry continue, three more record companies yesterday joined the growing number of companies that have formally suspended or dropped their use of independent promoters. They are A&M Records, CBS Records Group and Polygram Records.

According to WINZ Program Director Gabe Baptiste, Cox called into the show he regularly hosts and told substitute host Baptiste Tuesday afternoon that "Cox is fine, Cox will be back and things will be better than ever."

Baptiste said yesterday, "What we did was to try and get hold of him, to stymie the great amount of rumors that hit the fan yesterday afternoon that he was killed and other things.

"He said he's fine, he's recuperating, he'll be back to work soon. He said he was assaulted and that was about the only word that he used . . . He said 'I'll send you a Polaroid because Rocky Balboa throws a mean punch' . . . The sense of it was that he was in a hospital.

"We have really not talked to him other than that stint on the air."

Cox's whereabouts are not known by the station. "He's holding himself totally incommunicado," said WINZ Vice President Michael Horn. He said Cox is expected to report back to work sometime next week.

There is no official police report on the assault, and no evidence that the assault was related to Cox's controversial statements on "NBC Nightly News."

What there is, said Horn yesterday, is "a lot of conjecture."

"With as much honesty as we can do," said Horn, "we are dealing with a situation we know nothing about except, very simply, he was mugged on his way home when he completed his shift last Thursday, and he was mugged by a number of people. But that's about the whole width and breadth of the story we have."

According to an official at the Dade County Metropolitan Police, no reports have been filed about the incident and the department is not conducting any official investigation.

"We don't know anything about what happened to him," said officer Joe Leon.

Cox's lawyer Robert Hertzberg would not reveal Cox's location, nor would he comment on the situation, except to say: "The rumors are rampant. I've heard many, many different stories and do not have a factual basis for them." He said he anticipated an announcement would be made "in the near future."

On the NBC report, correspondent Brian Ross said, "Don Cox of Miami, one of the top disc jockeys in the country, says some promoters will do almost anything to get their records played and earn their big fees from the record companies."

Cox then mimicked a hypothetical conversation between a promoter and a deejay:

" 'Here, take this ounce [of] cocaine.' Couple of thousand dollars. 'Here you go . . . we can get more. You take this. And I'll give you a call Tuesday.' "

Then, Cox continued, "They call you. 'Well, how was that? By the way I got this record I want you to hear.' Now if you take it [the cocaine] you gotta answer the phone."

Asked Ross, "And they cozy up and they corrupt?"

Answered Cox, "It's their job."

In announcing the decision regarding the use of independent record promoters, CBS Records spokesman Bob Altshuler, in a prepared statement, said yesterday: "CBS Records is unaware of any illegal activities involving the domestic independent record promotion firms that we employ. We are concerned, however, about negative impressions of our industry that may have arisen from the recent wave of allegations regarding independent promotion. We are therefore announcing our intention to curtail substantially our use of these services while the various investigations are taking place, and we will reevaluate our position as they proceed."

A spokeswoman at Polygram yesterday said, "In light of recent allegations regarding the activities of certain individuals involved in independent promotion, Polygram Records has terminated any use of their services and will not reinstate these services unless such allegations are revealed to be unfounded."

A&M's statement, released from the company's headquarters in Los Angeles, said that "effective immediately it had suspended its relationship with various independent promoters."

The three companies now join RCA/Ariola, Capitol Industries-EMI, MCA and Warner Communications, all of which have cut or suspended ties with unspecified numbers of their independent promoters over the last two weeks.

The Recording Industry Association of America, which represents most record companies, has been subpoenaed to appear today before a federal grand jury panel in New York for all records relating to the activities of independent promoters, who contract with record labels to promote records to individual radio stations.