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Has EA extended its deadline on Take-Two merger today? Yes, it has

For what seems like the hundredth time, Electronic Arts said Wednesday that it has once again agreed to a delay in its deadline for its offer to buy the Grand Theft Auto publisher.

I was joking with an editor of mine this afternoon that CNET should put a little permanent widget on our front page that says something along the lines of, "Has Electronic Arts announced a timeline extension of its offer to buy Take-Two Interactive today? Yes or no." And then it would have a little check-box for each choice.

Now, in all fairness, most days, the "No" box would be checked. But let's be honest here: On an awful lot of days, we'd have to toggle it to "Yes."

Today would be one of those days, as EA announced that it has reached a deal with the U.S. Federal Trade Commission not to buy Take-Two until the FTC completes its look into the proposed merger, or until 45 days after the government tells EA that all is hunky-dory with the takeover.

Now the last time EA said it would extend the deadline for Take-Two to respond to its $2 billion tender offer was May 19. I wrote then that the company was losing its credibility with each new extension, and, well, nothing that has happened since has changed my mind.

That's particularly true since EA hasn't upped its offer for Take-Two, despite the fact that the latter's recent release, Grand Theft Auto IV, has sold for many hundreds of millions of dollars since its record-breaking release on April 29.

For its part, Take-Two has remained resolute to turn down the $2 billion offer, essentially demanding more money, something EA keeps saying it won't agree to.

And it's true that in takeover situations like this one, it's not at all uncommon for things to drag on and on and for deadlines to pass and then pass again. Look at Oracle and PeopleSoft. Or, obviously, Microsoft and Yahoo.

But EA's position seems to be that it has factored in GTA IV's success into its offer price and even though the game did far better than expected, it's still not willing to add even one more dollar to the bid.

Well, fine. In the end, EA may one day get its wish and get Take-Two for its own. But for now, with each new time that we here at have to check that "Yes" box, it just further erodes what little credibility that EA has left on this deal. And believe me, that isn't much.

On June 10, Geek Gestalt hits the highways for Road Trip 2008. I'll start in Orlando, Fla., and visit many of the South's most interesting destinations. Stay tuned, and be sure to keep up, both now and during the trip, with what I'm doing on Twitter.