NEW regulations being considered for pay-TV operators will allow them greater freedom on which programmes can be broadcast and at what times. The separate programme standards are being studied by legislators and about 50 members of the television advisory panels. They will be presented to the Broadcasting Authority within the next couple of months for formal endorsement. An adults-only channel, or ''channels showing material dealing with the realities of the adult world'' as described in the code of practice on programme standards, will be allowed. The new Codes of Practice for Subscription Television has been compiled by the Television and Entertainment Licensing Authority (TELA). Lone bidder Wharf Cable, however, has no plans to introduce an adults-only channel. If Wharf decides to introduce a channel for adults only there will need to be sufficient safeguards, such as lockable decoders. Wharf says an adult channel is not a problem technically. Films classified as Category III will be allowed on the adult channel, but films banned by the Film Censorship Authority will not be allowed on subscription television at all. There will not be a defined family viewing period - ATV and TVB will still have to play it safe between 4 pm and 8.30 pm. Wharf will also not be under any repeat restrictions. The rotation of children's programmes, feature films and promotional programmes will be at the discretion of the operator, which will include STAR TV from October when it is allowed to put pay channels on Wharf's service. TVB and ATV are not allowed to show films more than three times in a 24-month period. And while the two existing stations must show 60 minutes of documentaries and two half-hour current affairs programmes every week on each channel, Wharf will not have any quota obligations. Codes have also been drawn up for a home shopping channel; different regulations will apply to the promotion of alcohol, condoms and ''personal products''. The more relaxed codes of practice were proposed for subscription television because it is not perceived to have the same public service obligations as TVB and ATV. As a pay-to-view service, Wharf will not have the wide audience guaranteed to TVB and ATV. This reasoning, however, is dismissed by TVB, which says it is not fair that the two terrestrial channels must operate under more stringent conditions. ''We think that certain programme standards should be retained and applied equally to all broadcasters,'' said a spokeswoman. ''All along we have been stressing the point that we want a level playing field; we are fighting for equality and fair competition,'' she said.