EIGHT cable television channels began running into the homes of 2,500 subscribers yesterday but none of seven channels originating from STAR TV were among them. Governor Chris Patten pressed a button at Wharf Cable's headquarters in Tsuen Wan which sent Wharf's channels to air at 3.45 pm and marked the beginning of a new era in Hong Kong broadcasting. The eight channels are the 24-hour News in Chinese, CNN from the United States, Cable Entertainment, Cable Movie Channel, Cable Sports, Cable Children's Channel, Cable Young Music Channel and Cable Preview Channel. As the switch-on took place, bursting balloons sprinkled confetti over the 1,300 guests. The first family which subscribed to Wharf Cable featured in the ceremony. A Cable reporter sat in the living room of Mr Vincent Lo, a biology teacher from Sha Tin, who was flanked by his wife and three children. Mr Patten asked who would decide which channel the family watched: ''Will you take a vote?''. Said Mr Lo: ''It's not a problem at all because I like the news, my wife the movies and the children the cartoons and we can all catch them at different times.'' Wharf Cable, with a maximum capacity of 40 channels, expects to have half of Hong Kong's homes hooked up by 1997. The basic tariff is $198 a month. Much of the programming will be in Cantonese. But subscribers still have to wait for Wharf and STAR TV to reach an agreement before they can view four English premium channels featuring children's programmes, Asian and English films and business news, along with MTV Asia, Prime Sports and BBC World Service Television. The general manager of STAR's movie channel, Tony Watts, said Wharf was denying Hong Kong ''some of the best television in the world''. ''Those STAR channels are still available, but Hong Kong is suffering because Wharf is denying subscribers access.'' Wharf Cable managing director Stephen Ng would not comment on the dispute yesterday. But he said Wharf's acquisition of Fortress Satellite Service at the weekend, which ended another long-running dispute with STAR, should speed up an agreement about STAR's broadcasting rights. Under an agreement on Saturday with Hutchison Whampoa Ltd, Wharf Cable bought Fortress Satellite Services, which wires housing blocks for satellite TV, for an undisclosed amount. This allows Wharf to expand its reach by 300,000 homes which are presently STAR subscribers. Wharf has already wired another 200,000 homes.