I talked with senior Apple support tech staff today. The bottom line is they have acknowledged that the issues associated with accessing, renting, or purchasing video content via the Apple TV hardware is a software specific problem associated with the Apple TV box - a software glitch.
They are working on a software update to rectify the problem(s). In the near future (I was told this could be within 24 hours to a few days) you may be prompted for a software update when you turn on your Apply TV. Download the software update and then test to see if you can access, puruchase or rent video content. If the software update does not work, post on this thread. They said they would give me a call after the update is available and also stated they wanted to hear if the update does not work.