The article examines the manner in which public-policy for satellite broadcasting has been made in West Germany and France, the two countries currently leading developments in satellite broadcasting technology in Western Europe. A special theme of the two case studies is that of the complex relations and potential contradictions between industrial/technological policy and broadcasting policy, between the wider economics of satellite broadcasting and its cultural dimension. The article demonstrates a common pattern, as policy makers in both countries have been constrained to develop a broker role between competing aims and between national/regional pressures and international pressures. Nevertheless, both ideological and structural differences remained of enduring importance in establishing the parameters of policy making, and produced different, as well as similar, policy outcomes in the two countries. The question of ‘sovereignty’ is also set within the wider European context and the article examines responses at this latter level, in particular the European Community.