Fine Mess for Cox in Arizona?

The Arizona Corporation Commission recommended that Cox Communications be fined $2 million for “discriminatory and anti-competitive” behavior, AP reported.

The regulator said the MSO reached a special deal with developer Shea Sunbelt that prevented other phone companies from selling services in the Vistancia development in Peoria, according to AP.

The Cox-Shea deal surfaced when small phone provider Accipiter Communications sued Cox and filed a complaint with the commission alleging that the pact prevented it and telcos from doing business in the 17,000-home development, AP reported, adding that Cox paid Accipiter $1 million to settle the suit.

Cox told AP it will ask the commission to cut or eliminate the fine at an Aug. 28 hearing. Vice president of community relations and televideo Ivan Johnson said, “We believe the recommended fine is unfounded and inappropriate, and we intend to challenge it vigorously.”

The fine could have been as high as $4.2 million, but commission staff chose the $2 million figure because the cable operator cooperated with investigators and canceled the deal after it came to light, according to AP.