At least one mobile phone operator has cried foul after being denied advertising time on Now Broadband TV - an offshoot of telecommunications giant PCCW, which insists rivals are not allowed to buy coverage on the network. But a senior telecoms watchdog official said Now was unlikely to be breaching anti-competition rules, while a lawmaker conceded such acts would not be regulated until the proposed fair competition law was passed. A mobile phone operator told the South China Morning Post that his company had twice failed to run a marketing campaign on Now TV channels. Now said in written explanations in May 2006 and July last year that prior approval from PCCW's senior management was required for broadcasting of any advertisement that directly competed with PCCW's products and services, including the internet, broadband, media and telecoms products. The proposed TV commercials were considered to be for services in direct competition with PCCW's services. 'The practice is unfair to competitors but there seem to be grey areas in the ordinance,' said a manager who declined to be identified. 'We even have no idea if the issue is under the jurisdiction of the Office of Telecommunications Authority or the Broadcasting Authority, or neither.' PCCW said the company retained the right to accept or reject any requests for advertising. 'We generally do not carry the ads of our competitors,' a spokeswoman said. Bernard Hill, Ofta's assistant director for competition, said there had been inquiries about the case but no formal complaints. He said anti-competitive conduct was prohibited under the broadcasting and telecommunications ordinances but a formal complaint was unlikely to be upheld. 'The determining factor is whether a business abuses its dominant market position as an advertiser. But Now TV is only one of several pay-TV operators, which is not a monopoly,' Mr Hill said. He said television commercials accounted for only a small amount of the advertising of mobile operators and the refusal was unlikely to significantly affect the market. 'Only if PCCW held a dominant position among mobile phone operators or on the TV advertising platform would a complaint be actionable,' Mr Hill said. Lawmaker Sin Chung-kai, who represents the information technology constituency, said rejecting a competitor's advertisement might be classified as anti-competitive conduct under the proposed fair competition law, which would also cover unfair or discriminatory standards set out by companies. 'The policy violates the principle of fair competition despite being outside the boundary of existing regulations,' said Mr Sin, who called for the new legislation to be speeded up. A Broadcasting Authority spokeswoman said the issue was not under its jurisdiction. Cable TV, an arch-rival of Now TV, said it did not block advertisements from competitors, citing a series of commercials for Residence Bel-Air - developed by PCCW - in 2003. TVB and ATV also said they followed advertising standards issued by the Broadcasting Authority. Both had carried commercials of Now TV last year.